What is a progression run and how can it make you a better runner?
It feel’s great when you get it right, but it can be hard to know what pace to start at and how to structure the session effectively. So, we called in some advice from the experts over at adidas Runners London.
What is a progression run?A progression run is a classic speed-endurance workout that involves efforts gradually increasing over a set time. Simply, the run will start easy, efforts will gradually increase, then finish with a hard effort.
Without stressing your body too much, it's a fun way to add variety to your training whilst boosting your aerobic system and running at high intensity efforts without risking injury.
How can a progression run help you become a better runner?Progression runs are a sustainable way to develop an endurance base whilst including higher tempo work; with less stress on the system than a typical interval or tempo workout - progression runs allow you to add some faster running without increasing fatigue.
They’re great for practicing mental discipline and improving pacing; teaching you to practice control by not starting the progression element of the run too soon, so preventing you from fatiguing early.
The fun but challenging nature of a progression run means you’re primed for race day; the gradual increase in efforts will help with race day execution.
How to structure a progression run:The simplest way to approach a progression run is by time – You could break the run into three equal parts or thirds. Let's take 30 minutes as an example.
For the first 10 minutes, you run at a relatively comfortable effort. As you progress to the second 10 minutes, your effort would have progressively increased to a steady running effort. For the final 10 minutes, progress to a comfortably hard, yet sustainable effort.
The key thing to remember is to focus on incremental increase of effort during the 30 minutes – gradually ‘turn the screw’ as you approach the last third.
To make your long runs more interesting, you could also add a progression block of running in the last 20 minutes of the run. Every 5 minutes you could progress from your long run effort to a comfortably hard effort. This can teach you to physically and mentally operate on tired legs which is common in the second half of a race as push to the finish line.
If you prefer running to distance, you could turn your progression run to distance based one. It’ll still involve you progressing through efforts although the gradual increase will happen at a distance marker. An example workout could be a 6km progression run where you move through the efforts every 2km point – 2km at easy, 2km at steady and final 2km at comfortably-hard effort. You could tweak this based on your ability and current level of fitness.
How frequently should you build these into training?
The frequency of a progression session will depend on how often you are running overall. If you are running three or more times a week, you can build a progression into your runs once a week, and more if you are varying the sessions (a shorter progression run or progressive increase in efforts during a longer run).
The key is to ensure you are getting enough recovery time after each run and before the next session; remember, the recovery time is when the real training adaptations take place and without it, you won’t get fitter.
What Product do you recommend for a progression run?
As you progress through the progression run efforts, you want a Hi-Energy companion to keep you company. The new adidas Ultraboost 21 is that friend!
Starting your run with an easy effort, you’re aided by the comfortable and snug PRIMEKNIT+ upper. During the steady effort of your workout, you’ll feel the responsiveness and energy push of the adidas LEP (Little Extra Push) technology. Plus, with 6% more BOOST support, you’re provided with extra cushioning and response to finish the progression run strong and controlled.
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Top 5 Tips for progression runs:
Start slow! Prepare the body by running at an easy effort for the first segment.
Focus on gently progressing through the efforts without starting the progression aspect of the run too soon.
- RACE PACE
Aim to hit your race pace towards the end of the run without stressing your system too much.
Great for incorporating fast running without needing a lengthy recovery period after the session.
Not all progression runs look the same! Have fun with your runs and challenge yourself by mixing up the segment durations….just remember, the aim is to finish strong!
Huge thank you to Olivia and Ayo for their insight into progression running. Will you be looking to include progression runs into your training week? If you do, make sure to tag us in your runs on your social channel of choice. You can find us at: