The torsos of two people running in the woods

Training with a Faster Runner

The Question

This question is from marathondancer:


“My friend wants to do intervals with me on a running track but he is faster than me. We did 6 x 400m with 2-minute recovery in between. He could have gone faster but I couldn't. Is that any drill we can do so we can both do them together where we can run at different speeds?”

Matt's Answer

Matt - running coach
Matt - Athletics coach and distance runner

“Handicap runs are an excellent way two runners of different abilities being able to train effectively with one another.

On rep one, start together and then compare times after you've finished the first rep. On rep two, whoever was slowest goes first, and has a head start of whatever the difference was in terms of time between the two finishing reps of the two of you.

This does mean that the quicker of the two runners has slightly longer in terms of recovery... BUT this accurately replicates a race scenario and will often cause both runners to run a lot faster than if they had started them together. So for example, whoever starts ahead replicates a situation where they are having to try and stave off any runners chasing from behind. The chasing runner mirrors a scenario where they have to chase down a runner in front of them. Both scenarios are bound to happen at some point during your season. You won't know how you'll react in a race situation until you get there. But rehearsing different scenarios will definitely help you.

It's amazing in my experience how much this focuses the mind during the training, and really engages athletes.”

Simon's Answer

Simon - running coach
Simon Loughran - Middle-distance runner and UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and Athletics Coach

“One option is a paarlauf where you take turns running laps. You won't exactly be running together, but you'll be still be doing the session as a team. There are a few ways to accomplish this. See details here.

Another option is for you to run shorter reps than your partner. Since you're running laps of a track this is easy to coordinate. For example, you start 100 metres ahead of your partner. When he reaches you, you start running with him at the same speed. He will have run 400 metres, and you run will have run 300. Although you're running the same speed, you'll be running less distance and will also get slightly more recovery. It's during recovery that you'll walk to your start point.

A variation on this is for both of you to start together, run together at the same speed, but for you to stop after a certain distance. You can then walk back to the start point to meet your partner for the next rep.

A third option is you to run every other rep. You'll be getting a longer recovery and maybe your partner could slow down a little just for these reps, running at his ideal pace when going solo.”

Our Member's Answer

Jude in Birmingham reckons your friend can help out.

Jude - getting faster

“Do you always train together? I don't think it'll harm your friend to run at your pace from time to time. Maybe your friend could do a few extra 400s before and after your session?”

Thank you, Jude. Another good suggestion.

More questions »