Do you ever wake up and then immediately start scheming of ways to go back to sleep?  You know… "if I skip my shower, I can sleep 10 more minutes" or "if I eat cereal instead of oatmeal, I can sleep for 5 more minutes." Bargaining with myself never works, so I just pushed myself out of bed and stumbled to the crack — err coffee — pot.


Breakfast was really delish (and worth the extra 5 minutes):


My oatmeal contained:


  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 sliced banana
  • Toppings: granola and blackberries


Understanding the Puzzle of Speedwork, From Runner’s Lounge


I wanted to share this great post from Runner’s Lounge.


What is a "Repeat" in Speedwork And Why Is It Important?

Repeats are not intervals.  When we do intervals, the term ‘interval” actually refers to the time spent recovering. 


Repeats are generally shorter distances, e.g., 200 meters, 400s, 600s that we run at faster speeds that we can repeat several times in a workout.  Repeats improve the speed, efficiency and fluidness of our leg turnover.  Repeats don’t improve our ability to run sustained speed; those improvements come with interval and threshold training. We run repeats to become familiar and comfortable with a higher intensity of running. 


The key to repeats is being able to “repeat” the distance with the same quality at the end as at the beginning of the workout.  For example, if you’re running repeat 8 x 400s, the goal should be to hit the same finish time pace for each 400.  However, if you’re trying to run each repeat a little faster each time and get a scorching PR on that last 400 to brag about, then you’re not doing repeats and you’re missing the maximum benefit of the workout.  


To do a repeat workout well means managing the recovery time. Rather than limit your recovery to a specific amount of time for recovery (that’s running intervals), you manage a repeat workout subjectively giving yourself enough recovery to hit your time goal without hitting the fatigue that slows you down. 


A general guideline when running repeats is to take two to four times the duration of your repeat to recover.  Between the first several repeat 400s you might need around three minutes to adequately recover.  But between the last several repeat 400s, you might need closer to four minutes. That’s okay because the goal is to run each 400 at a comparable stress level, not faster.


Simply, we should take enough recovery time to be ready to run each distance with the same quality as the first—so you can repeat the intensity and quality of the running!  We should step up to the line feeling confident we’re able to perform the next run as well as the ones before it.  That’s what makes it a repeat!


The downside to running repeat speed workouts is we can become a little tight and stiff while recovering. Plus the overall time for our running workout takes longer to perform.


The great thing about repeat workouts is you can create lots of different combinations.  I like 200s, 300s and 600s, but I don’t care for 400s—flashbacks of my high school track workouts.  A favorite workout of mine is 3 x 200 + 1 x 300, and do a couple sets of these. You can also do longer repeats such as 800s, 1000s and 1200s, when they fit into the race distance for which you’re training.  


A rule of thumb is to limit repeat training to about 5% of total weekly mileage.  Any more than 5%, plus any other quality speed training, leads to diminishing the quality of running the rest of the week, to overtraining, and to the likeliness of injury.


Repeat training is often included more in training for 5k – 10k races.  In terms of placement in the training program, repeats generally come before interval training in order to help the body adapt to running faster with full recovery before adapting to limited recovery.


Happy running!



  • Jen March 31, 2009, 3:44 am

    This morning I woke up an hour early. I wasn’t bargaining with myself, I was just trying to see if I could get back to sleep…at least I have plenty of time for all of the things you mentioned: cooked breakfast, working out, etc. Sigh.

  • runnerskitchen March 31, 2009, 3:56 am

    ugh, when my alarm went off this morning, I was desperate to go back to sleep…good thing i just drank about a gallon of coffee 🙂 your blackberries look yummy!

  • just me March 31, 2009, 4:02 am

    i totally woke up 1/2 hr later this morning when i told myself i wouldn’t read blogs and get to work. oops.

  • Amy March 31, 2009, 4:05 am

    I should so just drink coffee as soon as I wake up…I just puttered around for over an hour instead of going out for a run and getting on with the morning. I’ve been scheming like mad this morning! arrghh

  • Mica March 31, 2009, 4:42 am

    I totally bargain with myself in the morning. (This morning: “If I don’t get up and pee, I can sleep for five more minutes.” It didn’t work.)

    Thanks for the informative “Repeat” information. I think I’m doing mine wrong…

    Also, I *loved* your outburst on my blog about the dumb undergrad. Seriously, it made my morning. Maybe I’ll print it out and leave it on her chair.

  • livelovelaugheatlearn March 31, 2009, 4:46 am

    This is funny because I for sure bargained with myself and skipped the shower today (gross I know). Hopefully my coworkers forgive me.

  • Ruby March 31, 2009, 4:46 am

    Wow sounds interesting! Still a little much thinking for me and I also don’t have a way of measuring it. But I like the theory!

  • VeggieGirl March 31, 2009, 5:06 am

    Interesting concept!!

    Happy Tuesday!!

  • Carolina John March 31, 2009, 5:18 am

    my blackberries and raspberries in the garden are really leafing out now. i’m hoping they will start fruiting in the next few weeks!

    thanks for the explanation of repeats. turns out, i have been doing it wrong. but i mostly do intervals anyway per my FIRST training plan.

  • jenngirl March 31, 2009, 5:22 am

    haha that’s really funny, I bet everyone has “bargained” with themselves one morning or another.

    I never understood there to be much of a difference between intervals and repeats. Thanks for the clarification, and sharing that great article! 🙂

  • EmLit March 31, 2009, 5:32 am

    Hi Caitlin! I just started reading your blog recently and really love it (I was especially glad to see that I’m not the only one who experiences the dreaded ‘life bonk’!). Thanks for this great post on repeats. I’ve been running for years but I’m just started a speed training program (I’m scheduled for repeats this afternoon, actually) in the hopes of a PR at my next 5k and it was really helpful to read this!

  • Red Head, Yellow Dog March 31, 2009, 5:44 am

    definitely good to know!! running lingo can get so tricky!

  • Amanda March 31, 2009, 5:47 am

    Love your blog! You are so right about the morning bargaining, it’s amazing what crazy things your have asleep brain can convince you. I have a dumb question about repeats. What do you do during the recovery in between…jog, walk, stand?

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point March 31, 2009, 5:54 am

    amanda- you want to do a recover at your normal pace or slightly slower. i usually do my repeat sprints at 8:00 or 8:30-mile and my recoverys at 9:30- or 10-mile.

  • Tina March 31, 2009, 6:26 am

    Thanks for this post– I have speedwork on the agenda for tonight!

  • ksgoodeats March 31, 2009, 6:33 am

    I love that bowl! So spring like 🙂

  • Brandi March 31, 2009, 7:20 am

    I need to find some blackberries. those look great!

    Thanks for posting this about repeats!

  • tfh March 31, 2009, 7:53 am

    Hmm– I guess I rarely run repeats. I never really thought about the difference between repeats and intervals! (Also, you’re brilliant: from now on, I, too, am calling the coffee pot the “crackpot”!)

  • Trish March 31, 2009, 9:14 am

    I did not want to get out of bed today. Some days, oatmeal is a good enough reason to get up. 🙂

  • runsarah March 31, 2009, 9:27 am

    Thanks for the post – I haven’t done much speedwork and wasn’t really sure how to tackle it.

    I couldn’t get out of bed this AM so slept for another extra 20 min or so…glorious!

  • Leanne March 31, 2009, 11:22 am

    We used to do repeats during track practice in high school and during our peak training we had to do 16×400’s!! We couldn’t quit until our lap time slowed sufficiently so some of us had to do 18-20 total. Let’s just say it’s a workout I will NEVER forget! lol

  • Elina April 1, 2009, 6:42 am

    That was really informative – thanks! I actually have to do 9×200 according to my schedule and I always try to run faster with each interval (I guess it’s a “repeat?)… and always recover for the same amount of time as the repeat. Hmm, looks like I’ve been doing it all wrong. I don’t want to get injured so I’ll do it your way today 🙂

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