In running, there are no magic workouts to get faster. Oftentimes, even, the most effective workouts are the simplest on paper. There is nothing magic about running 8 minutes compared to 7 or 9 minutes. However, 8 minutes of hard running is long enough to improve your speed and train your mental strength for running hard when tired. For some runners, 8-minute intervals will be just under a mile, one mile, or over a mile—the workout adapts itself based on the current fitness of the runner.

The Workout

  • 10-15 minutes easy running warm-up
  • 3 x 8 minutes hard with 3 minutes easy in between
  • 10-15 minutes easy running cool down

Eight minutes intervals are long enough that they will challenge your ability to sustain a fast pace for a longer period of time. Especially if you are training for a race longer than one mile, you want to be able to sustain a fast pace for longer. Whether you are training for a 5K or marathon, you can use 8-minute intervals in your training plan to help you develop your ability to hold a faster pace for longer. Not only will this improve your overall speed, but this workout will help prevent you from flagging during the final quarter of your next race.

The key to this workout is pacing. You want to run these at a hard effort but not so hard that you slow down as the workout progresses. Aim for an effort that feels hard, like an 8 out of 10 or the pace you could sustain for an 8K to 10K race – your breathing should be labored so that you can only speak a word or two without gasping for breath. You should feel as if you could push a bit harder if you wanted, especially at the start of the interval. Try to run as even as splits as you can for these intervals. Walk or jog the recovery intervals slow enough that your breathing returns to normal.

As with all speed workouts, the warm-up and cool down are just as important as the intervals. A warm-up of ten to fifteen minutes will loosen up your muscles and joints, thus decreasing your risk of injury, and gradually increase your heart rate so you can sustain the faster pace with more ease. The cool down will slowly decrease your heart rate back to normal and aid in the recovery process.