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I've been doing 1/2 mi. x 6 for the past couple of months and I thought I'd give it a go and do some 1/4 mi. repeats. How many should I shoot for and what type of recovery? Is 6 a good number or should I be doing more?

I'm mostly training for 5Ks and short distance duathlons.


6 is a good start. If you were doing 6x800s, then you should be able to do at leasat 8 400s (since you are conditioned to speedwork). But you could work your way up to 10-12 over the next few weeks.
This is the Runner X unofficial interval guide. Defer to runaroundsue, jrjo, and CoachCraig for the official answers.
1600: 3-4
800: 4-6
400: 8-12
200: 12+
Plus it matters if you do full recovery or not. I always do a recovery jog, which is still somewhat fast. That makes the workout go by faster, but limits the number of repeats I can do. I have friends that do tons more repeats, but they get like 2-3 minutes full rest. So they can do more.


the Joplus Official Guide to Quarters (JOGQ) = 11 repeats broken out into 3 sets:

4x400 with 200 rest,
3x400 with 200 rest,
4x400 with 200 rest.

400 rest in between each set.

Lotsa warmup and cooldown, of course.


It is somewhat dependent on the specific goal behind the workout. Something like 4 x 400m quite fast with a lengthy recovery would be an appropriate workout for a miler, and it does serve a useful purpose late in a training schedule for a 5K runner. You might also do a short set of 400's to add a little speed as part of a primarily distance run. This has a similar effect as adding strides to a run.

However, the most common way of doing 400's for a distance runner is to do 8 to 12 of them. With a warmup and cooldown, this becomes a full workout. As joplus mentioned, 200m slow jog is a typical recovery, and these are often broken into sets of 4 with a little extra recovery between sets.

A higher mileage runner might do 16 quarters, and I've done as many as 20. Once you hit big numbers it starts to becomes the equivalent of mile repeats or even a tempo run. At that point I would rather get away from all the starting and stopping and do something longer. Personally, I run 12 x 400m as a single set, with a fairly quick recovery of 200m in 60 seconds. Because I race longer distances (10K and up) this gives me a nice mixture of speed and a sustained effort.

My version of the Runner X interval guide geared toward intermediate 5K-10K runners:

1600m: 4-5
1000m: 5-6
800m: 6-8
400m: 8-12
200m: 16-32

These numbers are higher than Runner X, but I tend to stress volume. Certainly these are numbers to work up to as it takes time for your body to adapt to the speed of intervals, as well to the fact that a long interval workout can hit a pretty high mileage total.


I was going to say 10-12 repeats for 5k, 10k runner. I know "the rule of thumb" that a group I ran with used was 2.5- 3 miles on the track. I figured if it was good enough for an '84 Olympian, I wasn't going to question.

Although when I switched clubs, I found myself doing 24 x 400s on the track, much like what Craig describes.(sets of 4 with active 200 jog and then a few minutes after a set)... I did this once for pretty much the same reasons. Your on that track until the cows come home! I can cover twice the distance in half the time doing long intervals or short tempo runs.



I too would work up to 10-12 with 200 meter recoverys. We did this for track and it was a great workout.

mile or so warm up and cool down after.

I would start at 6 and add two every week.