One-Hour Workouts for Running: Leg Speed

Try this one-hour run from One-Hour Workouts!

No sport benefits from leg speed like running does. Regular leg speedwork not only improves your basic speed but also actively stretches muscles and tendons in a specific manner, which means in the long term you’re much less likely to sustain running injuries. But it gets better: Leg speedwork can also improve your basic ability!

Think about it: If you can improve your stride length by 2 centimeters (approximately 16 m per mile) and your cadence by two strides per minute (approximately 23 m per mile), a runner with a 10K personal best of 40 minutes could improve by close to a minute. That can be achieved not by training harder, but simply by implementing leg speedwork.

If this sounds like you—and why wouldn’t it?—then use this workout to pick up more leg speed.

These sprints can be 20–30 seconds across a park, or they can be 100–200 m on a running track. They are fast, but not 100 percent, about the pace you would race 400 m. But this is not an effort session; it’s a technique session. You will huff and puff a bit at the end of each sprint, but the 5 minutes of easy running between reps should help you to recover fully so you can get through the session without undue effort. This is crucial because any fatigue will undermine your ability to run fast with good technique. To promote speed without undue effort, this workout is best done with a tailwind or on a slight downhill. It’s the kind of workout you can do year-round because as well as building leg speed and helping avoid injury, it’s a great final speed workout in the five days before a race and for maintaining speed between races.

Leg Speed, Please


10 min.                                 Easy running RPE1

6-10 x 20-30 sec.               Sprints at 90% effort RPE 4-5, Run easy for 5 min. between each rep.

10 min.                                 Easy running RPE 1

This workout is from One-Hour Workouts, a collection of 50 swim, bike, and run workouts from top triathlon coaches that anyone can fit into a lunch hour–including warm-up and cool-down. Each of the 50 workouts in One-Hour Workouts are tightly focused on one goal so that athletes can get a quality training session in just one hour. Athletes can choose from base, tempo, or speed workouts in each sport to match their training plan’s goal for the day.