I'm a long distance runner and I mostly compete in road races 6 miles to 13 miles but I want to get much better at middle distance races and racing in the 2-5 mile range. I've been trying to train for this distance but I just can't seem to improve. I have a 4km race in 6 weeks.

I can comfortably run 10 miles with a pace of 7 minutes a mile or better but in training if I go even just a little faster than this lactate threshold I really struggle to keep it up even for short distances. I recently did 3 1-mile intervals in training with a 3 minute rest in between and averaged a time of 6:10. Some of the people I train with in my athletics club long distance group who I can do a better time over 10km+ with, can do a whole minute faster than me over 1 mile. I'm one of the better long distance runners in our group yet I'm possibly the worst in middle distance. Why am I so bad at running middle distance when I should be able to manage a much faster pace than I do and what can I do to improve?

1 Answer 1


Ross: I am assuming the people are are doing the 3x1 miles @ 5 min pace are the same age and are doing the same training.

So if they are training identically to you then perhaps your gap is some physical thing that is stopping your body from performing at such a high level. However, if you look hard at your numbers and run them through a Pacing calculator, you will see that you are very close to where you should be

Example: https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/ I put in 1:10 minutes for 10 miles. Then your 1 mile should be 5:48 (And this is running ALL OUT) If you are running your 3x1 at 6:10 then you are right on target.

If we turn this around and say that you want to run your mile is 5 minutes, then your 10 mile should be 1 hour.

My coach always tells me to run a race and lay it all out there, that is where you will find where you are at. When you are racing you shouldn't "Feel" Comfortable. You should feel like you are really pushing yourself and you can't go any faster. If you feel like you can go faster then GO FASTER!!

So to answer your question try the following ideas

Two times per week try 3 to 5 - 10 minute high effort intervals at 95-105 percent of your LT heart rate with 3 minutes of rest between intervals.

or for long term you can add this to your weekly training:

Two times per week do a 20-30 minute high intensity effort at 95-105 percent of your LT heart rate.

You should also find out what your competitors are doing and consider getting a coach, at least leading up to a race.

  • Thank you for answer. Very insightful information. I shall try to adapt these suggestions to my training.
    – Ross
    Nov 29, 2015 at 16:04

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