Adapting TR workouts to running

Generally in the running community there aren’t many prescribed workouts that mimic either the sweet spot workouts, over-unders, or some of the shorter 30-15sec VO2 max intervals. Many of us will go to the track and crank out 400, 800, or 1600m intervals, we might have some tempo runs, fartleks, etc. But it seems like we’re missing some important workout types.

Last year over the course of a week or so I decided to try to mimic some of the TR workouts while out on my runs. In particular I did some over-unders where my “over” was 5k pace, and my “under” was my half-marathon pace. To be honest it felt pretty similar to a bike over-under workout so I think I probably had the paces dialed in pretty good, but my question is, did this give me a benefit that I couldn’t have gotten just doing intervals or a tempo run? And why are there no “sweet spot” type workouts traditionally prescribed by most running plans/coaches?


You’ll see some “sweet spot” workouts in McMillan and similar plans, deemed “Steady State Runs.” I think they crop up most in HM plans.

Isn’t the primary point of over-unders to acclimate riders to the sorts of stresses they’ll see in drop rides and races? In running, you’d see that in cross-country races and in a few races at the top level. Most races and racers are aiming for either a steady pace throughout or for a slight acceleration throughout. Distance track events and road events longer than 5K are now typically won by going out at a “slow,” manageable pace and then really hammering the final 15-25% of the distance.

Cross-country racing is a lot more like bike racing (without the draft). There, you see workouts like mule trains, done in a group. Everyone runs at a medium hard pace, and the back runner in the line runs hard to the front. As soon as that runner settles into the front, it rotates.

In marathon and half-marathon training, you’ll see workouts with variation on tempo intervals and more things similar to the over-unders you described. I think these are most helpful in helping you learn and feel comfortable with all the different paces you may be trying to maintain. A classic, very hard workout in this vein is Michigan. I really like the Rowland Tempo. The Strava/Lauren Fleshman workout series that features the Rowland Tempo has a lot of other varied, structured workouts.

The shorter bursts come up very often as striders (included for neurological development in many, many workouts, usually done in sets of 10) and less often as 200m and shorter repeats, mainly for track specialists (milers and shorter).

One big thing to keep in mind is that recovery intervals running are still relatively hard. I’ve been working through a VO2 Max series on TR, and I wouldn’t dream of completing the same series running unless I had a base of more than 50 miles per week.


Thanks for the info on Michigan and the Rowland Tempo. Interesting stuff I really haven’t seen much of. (I spent the majority of my open marathon training with the Hal Higdon programs.)

The Rowland Tempo looks the closest to a TR type sweet spot workout, but it still does go above tempo. Do you think that something like Carson: Log In to TrainerRoad would be beneficial as well, doing 5-7min slightly below tempo with 2min breaks or something like that?

I have been thinking about this all day, and I think that in running, the line between sweet spot and ineffective Z3 work is so fine and hard to measure that I would avoid adapting sweet spot to running unless I was either working with a coach or practicing a specific race pace that happened to fall within that range

30/30s VO2Max intervals are pretty common in many training plans, and (just like in TR plans) are often used in the initial sessions, with a progression towards longer intervals (200m, 400m, etc). Daniels keeps a mix of 200 and 400m for interval training during most programs.

Over-unders are for improving lactate tolerance/clearance, like the Rowland Tempo. Presumably that should be useful for something like a 5k.

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Ah, would this be what is termed ‘Zone X’ by Fitzgerald etc?