New Running Workout: Crescendo Diminuendo Run

I’ve been doing pretty much the same workout regimen this whole year to improve my running (and mostly to train for my May marathon):

  • Run intervals on Monday (various distances)
  • Cross train Tuesday
  • Tempo run Wednesday
  • Cross train Thursday
  • Long run Friday

My tempo runs on Wednesday usually consist of a warm-up, followed by 5-8 miles at a steady, fast clip, and then a short cool-down. For some reason I didn’t feel like doing the same old tempo this week. Yesterday I gave it some thought and came up with a fairly challenging and fun workout (I use the term “fun” very liberally here).

I call the workout: Crescendo Diminuendo

The Crescendo Diminuendo run is basically a tempo workout with some speed variability built in. I suppose it’s not a true tempo since it get’s pretty fast and it’s not steady. The idea is to start at a pace slower than normal tempo, then increase speed at a steady rate in 1/2 mile to 1 mile increments. The fastest mile should be half way through the workout. Then slow back down at the same rate.

Here’s a description of the Crescendo Diminuendo run I did, what my targets were, and what I actually achieved:

Description My Target My Result & Comments
1 mile warm-up 1 mile @ ~7:30/mi 7:28. Felt pretty tight after some hard workouts in the past few days and some yard work yesterday evening (digging a ditch)
1mi @ marathon pace +15 seconds 1mi @ 7:00 6:54. I was still warming up here and it was nice to continue to loosen up.
1mi @ MP 1mi @ 6:45 6:42. Not too challenging yet. Feeling better and better.
1mi @ MP -15s 1mi @ 6:30 6:27. Now I was starting to move. I began to wonder if I could hit the upcoming pace at my toughest mile.
1mi @ MP -30s 1mi @ 6:15 6:13. There was a small down and uphill towards the end, so I made sure to speed up on the down to bank a little time for the up.
1mi @ MP -45s 1mi @ 6:00 5:50. I started out on a downhill which was really nice as I got my legs moving fast. However, I’m happy to report that the second half of this mile was still <6:00  🙂
1mi @ MP -30s 1mi @ 6:15 6:13. I didn’t immediately slow down from the previous mile, so that gave me a good head start and kept this mile on pace despite a slight uphill at the end.
1mi @ MP -15s 1mi @ 6:30 6:21. The first half mile was fast with a little downhill, then I started to lose focus and get a little lazy the second half. I caught myself and sped up at the end to stay under my target.
1mi @ MP 1mi @ 6:45 6:38. I thought this would be easy, but the second half was a little challenging for me as I was beginning to wear out.
1mi @ MP +15s 1mi @ 7:00 7:07. I kept the first half under 7:00. I wasn’t too concerned about keeping the second half on pace as I was ready to start cooling down. Also, I had a little uphill to deal with.
Cool-down Cool-down. 7:15. This was only 1/4 mile, so I took it fairly easy although I was still moving at a decent pace.

You can see from this that my run had some decent symmetry:

Crescendo Diminuendo Run
Symmetry of the Crescendo Diminuendo run. I peaked right at the beginning of the 6th mile — the downhill portion of the fastest mile.

Overall the Crescendo Diminuendo run was a success. It was different, kind of fun, and kept my mind engaged. It was nice to have different targets rather than the same target over and over. In fact, my tempo runs often don’t have a defined target until I get going, so this was definitely a change.

Interestingly for me, my overall average pace was exactly the same as my tempo run last week on the same course where ran steady for ~8mi @ 6:20-6:25 pace. That tells me I got the pacing right for this run.

I’m hoping that in 2-3 months I can improve enough that I can lower all my targets by 15 seconds. This workout actually gave me some confidence as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to hit those targets. I’m coming off of a hard week for me. I also dug a ditch yesterday evening and didn’t get sufficient sleep. Perhaps if I’m a bit more fresh I can already drop a few seconds.

I did this Crescendo Diminuendo run on mostly flat terrain with only small rolling hills. If you were to do it on real hills, you may have to go by effort rather than pace.

Maybe this workout already exists somewhere, but I hadn’t heard of something like this. If I were more knowledgeable or fancy, I would have some nice descriptions of how this particular run helps your lactate threshold, mitochondrial uptake, etc. etc. Really though, I feel that any challenging run can help you get better, so this was one that was a little different and changed things up. I definitely believe in mixing things up to achieve performance gains. The Crescendo Diminuendo run did that for me.

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