Weekly Workout: Quarter-Mile Intervals for Pushing Speed and VO2 Max

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A soldier runs during German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge testing.
Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, run during the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge testing at Grafenwoehr Army Base, Germany, June 24, 2014. (Sgt. Fred Brown/U.S. Army photo)

Here is a way to challenge yourself by pushing your limits on running 400 meters, which is one lap around a track. I do not recommend doing this on a treadmill.

I call this the Quarter-Mile Track Torture.

Start with an easy warmup jog around the track. Your pace should be something easy, at least a minute over your normal mile pace. Rest two minutes between each quarter-mile set. Run one lap on a quarter-mile track. Start at a two-minute, quarter-mile pace, or 2:30, depending on your fitness level, then reduce to two-minute laps. It is OK to fail at the fifth, sixth or seventh set. Just do the best you can.

Walk for 1½ minutes between each lap.

  • 1st lap: 2:00

  • 2nd: 1:50

  • 3rd: 1:40

  • 4th: 1:30

  • 5th: 1:20

  • 6th: 1:10

  • 7th: 1:00

  • 8th: Cool down for a lap

Your goal is to keep your finish times within 5-10 seconds of each goal for each quarter-mile run. Remember to rest for 1:30 between each lap. If you want to challenge yourself more, add in 20 squats and 10 lunges per leg between each set as well. Good luck with this increasing speed and pace interval run.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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