If you want to improve and become a better runner then I’m afraid you are going to have to train harder or at the very least, train smarter.

It really is that simple.


One training session that has been introduced to me recently is the Progression Run. My friend and mentor Colin thinks he made it up. Should I be the one to tell him others have been doing it for years?

I’m not going to lie, this is a tough run, in fact it’s probably the toughest training run I’ve done. But with it comes obvious benefits.

The idea of this training is to start off slowly and get progressively quicker as you cover more distance. I’ve done both my sessions with Hastings Runners and we covered 5 miles.

Before you set off you want to plan the pace you will run at. The last mile you should be running at your 5K pace. For every preceding mile you should run 30 seconds slower. I’ll give you my example.

I’m not quick, so a decent 5K for me at the moment would be about 25 minutes. So the final mile of my progression run was set to 8 minute miles. The first mile was a 10 minute mile.

Mile 1 – 10.00
Mile 2 –  9.30
Mile 3 –  9.00
Mile 4 – 8.30
Mile 5 – 8.00

To begin with, it’s actually quite difficult to run slow enough. You are obviously fresh at the beginning of a run and raring to go. So you have to take it very slow. This is great. Far too many of us make the mistake of starting races too quickly and running out of energy at the end.

The progression run ensures we set off at a very comfortable pace and build into the run, producing our best speed at the end. The training really gets hard at Miles 4 and 5. By then you are almost replicating your 10K and then 5K speed. To be able to run at race pace during training every now and again is very important and that’s something the progression run forces you to do.

Just because it’s training, don’t give up. You have to grind out those last few miles. It’s easier to keep pushing yourself if you run with a group or friend. You don’t want them to see you stop and think you’re a quitter.

I had my 10K PB recently, but to produce the time I needed I had to run the last KM 40 seconds quicker than the previous one. Given I was shattered at the time, picking up my pace that much was a real effort. But in my mind I related back to my progression run. I knew I could do it, I’d done something very similar in training. Again it hurt like hell but the elation of crossing the finish line and seeing the race clock was worth every strain of effort.

Give it a go

Do a Progression Run