A runner running to the sunset

Royal Flush

  • A fun session that hits a range of paces
  • Perfect for the road or the track

A Royal Flush involves splitting your run into several segments and running each faster than the last.


You'll need a basic running watch with a lap function. Ideally, it will show you lap pace.

The Session

The goal of the session is to run each mile or kilometer faster than the last.

For example, if you're running four miles, the first mile will be your slowest, mile two will be a little faster, mile three will be faster still, and your final mile will be the fastest.

Here's an example of a royal flush session for the road suitable for a 50-minute 10k runner.

Royal Flush Road Session

LapLap Time
Mile 110:00
Mile 29:45
Mile 39:30
Mile 49:15
Mile 59:00
Mile 68:45

The runner starts at the high end of their easy running pace and drops 15 seconds per mile for each mile, with the final run slightly faster than their 10k pace.

This should provide a moderately challenging but satisfying session.

A royal flush also works well on a running track, where it's easy to split sections into multiples of 100 meters. Here's an example of a session that's suitable for an 18-minute 5k runner:

Royal Flush Track Session

400m (1)90 seconds
400m (2)85 seconds
400m (3)80 seconds
400m (4)75 seconds

The runner starts slightly slower than their 5k pace and progresses to about their 1-mile pace.


Royal Flush by Time

In this variation, you decide on an interval of time and increase your average pace for each time interval. For example, you could increase your speed every five minutes on the road or every 60 seconds on the track.

Royal Flush by GAP

If you fancy a royal flush over a hilly route, then rather than making each lap's pace faster than the previous, you can make the grade-adjusted pace for each lap faster than the last.

This requires some guesswork since it's difficult to know precisely the grade-adjusted equivalent pace while running. But you can view this as an additional challenge.

Royal Flush by Heart Rate

Here, the average heart rate for each lap should be greater than the last. A runner's heart rate tends to climb naturally as a run continues, so this variation shouldn't pose too much of a challenge.

Variable Laps

In this variation, each subsequent lap distance or time gets shorter. Here's an example of a variable lap royal flush for a 25-minute 5k runner:

Royal Flush Track Session (variable laps)

800 meters4:30
400 meters2:00
200 meters45 seconds
100 meters20 seconds

Be wary of starting too quickly. If you do, you risk running out of steam with a couple of laps to go.

Only include a few laps. Five is a good number, and the brave can try ten or more.

Work out a reasonable pace for your final lap before the session and work backward, planning for each previous rep to be slightly slower.


Remember to warm up before your session and cool down afterwards.