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Most famous 5 km running training: Prefontaines 30-40

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In the world of elite 5k runners, very few workouts are as famous as Prefontaine’s 30-40 workout. With one setting, anyone can customize this famous 5K workout to improve their running.

For those unfamiliar, Steve Prefontaine is a god with track nerds. Pre (short for “Prefontaine”) is considered one of the best American endurance runners of all time, setting American records in every distance from 2,000 to 10,000 meters before his life was shortened in a car accident at the age of 24.

Although Pre wanted to focus on the mile, Pre’s best event was considered 5km. His personal record, set in 1974, was a smoking fast of 13:21 – a pace of 4:18 per mile for 3.1 miles! One of his main 5K workouts (given by Pre’s Track Coach, famous Bill Dellinger at the University of Oregon) consisted of 3 miles of alternating 200m in 30 seconds, followed by 200m in 40 seconds.

The 30-second 200m was roughly at Pre’s mile pace. The workout became known as the pre 30-40 workout.

Pre 30-40: Float workout for runners

At the target pace, the workout before 30-40 leads to a 14:35 5K. A daunting goal, even for today’s elite runners. While it’s highly unlikely that most runners can run even the first 200m in 30 seconds, that doesn’t mean this workout isn’t for you – with some pace adjustments.

The great thing about any running workout is that once you understand its underlying purpose, you can adapt it to suit any level runner. In Pre’s 30-40 workout, Coach Dellinger used a concept called “float training”.

Float workouts are designed to do the recovery part of the workout at a moderately fast pace, or float, hence the name. This small change from traditional interval recovery will help your body manage and eliminate lactic acid while still running faster.

Pre is 30-40

Prefontaine Workout: 30-40 customize for you

To customize Pre’s 30-40 workout for each skill, run the faster 200s (or 30s in Pre’s workout) at your 1-mile to 3-km race pace. Then slow down the slower 200s by 10 seconds.

Repeat for 3 miles or 12 laps of one distance. If you don’t know your mile or 3k race pace, you can use a 5k, half marathon, or marathon race pace to determine it Race Predictor Calculator. This workout is best done on a track because of the clear 200 meter markings.

Add the following to make things a little more interesting and to put pressure on your stimulation skills: If your pace is slow for two consecutive 200s, stop exercising immediately and cool off.

Don’t worry, this technique of suddenly stopping your workout when you’re slow is a common practice among elite coaches. It’s like a trigger switch to avoid undue damage if the workout gets too hard.

It also makes sure you pay extra attention to your pace.

Pre 30-40 workout

  • Warm up 1-2 miles, starting at an easy pace and then gradually increasing to a moderately hard pace.
  • Run 200m on your mile up to 3km pace, followed by 200m and 10 seconds slower. (You can use this calculator to find your mile at 3K pace.)
  • Repeat the above process for a total of 3 miles (12 laps of a course) or until you are unable to reach the pace for two consecutive intervals.
  • Cool off 1-2 miles at a light pace.

FAQ

What is the pre 30-40 workout?

The Pre 30-40 workout is a track workout that Steve Prefontaine would do to prepare for the 5K. It consists of 3 total miles alternating between 30 seconds 200 meters and 40 seconds 200 meters. This later became known as the pre 30-40 workout and is a 5 km test among elite distance runners.

Prefontaine 30-40

Who is Steve Prefontaine?

Steve Prefontaine, short “Pre”, was an American distance runner who took part in the 1972 Summer Olympics on 5,000 m. He held American records at every distance from 2,000 to 10,000 m. He attended the University of Oregon before running for the Oregon Track Club. Prefontaine’s life was cut short in a car accident at the age of 24.

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