Pyramid Running Sessions

Pyramid Running Sessions are a usual tool for coaches since they allow a range of distances (and potentially speeds) to be run in a single session. Here we use the term to cover any session where there is a step up or down in distance between runs, for example:

400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400

600, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100

300, 250, 200, 300, 250, 200

1 mile, 2 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles

As you can see the ways in which these sessions can be run are extensive.

Coaches often choose these kinds of sessions because of the speed and recovery elements, allowing them to overload the body in different ways on different runs - much as a 1500m runner, for example, might need in a race, with one pace for the first lap, another in the middle and yet another at the end.

Physiologically, the levels of lactate in the system can be experimented with in these sessions, to find strengths and weaknesses in an athlete - for example, one athlete may cope well with the long repetitions, but struggle with the short ones, while a different athlete may be the total opposite.

Two of the major benefits of running a variety of distances in a session are psychological:

  • Firstly, if an athlete feels they have got into a rut with, say, 400s, then they may get confidence back by achieving at another distance. This would particularly be the case where a distance is set which hasnít been run for a while and the athlete can see an improvement in their time.
  • Secondly, if the pyramid session ends on a fairly short run, then even if the athlete is very tired, the feeling of having already got the worst out of the way can often help them finish the last part of the session strongly. Also, even if the first runs were very hard, if the runs get shorter, it is often possible to maintain the same pace. If the runs get longer as the session goes on, this can be useful for instilling a sense of toughness - the attitude that racing will be easier if difficult training sessions are handled well.

Experience has shown that it can be useful to combine pyramid sessions with a split interval session, e.g.

400m, 1 minutes rest, 400m, 10 mins, 300m, 1 min, 300m, 10 mins, 200, Ö..etc.

This further increases the toughness of each repetition, but is very useful to gauge how close to their preferred time for a certain distance an athlete is - for example, by breaking down an 800m repetition into 2 x 400m, the combined time for both 400s can give an indication of what the athlete can hope to run 800m in.

Running Session Types and Definitions

  1. Running Strides
  2. Race Starts - All Distances
  3. Sprints
  4. Speed / Speed Endurance
  5. Lactic Acid Training
  6. Interval Training
  7. Fartlek Sessions
  8. Steady Running
  9. Recovery Runs
  10. Threshold / Tempo Runs
  11. Split Run Training
  12. Hill Running
  13. Paarlauf Intervals
  14. Running Races






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