Training Sessions And Their Equivalents

Here I describe in detail each of the standard training sessions. I have, where possible tried to include two alternative sessions which are roughly equivalent. As a general rule, the most preferred method of doing the session is listed first. Within any given week, one should try to run at least once, and skate at least twice. In each of the descriptions, I try to explain the motivation for the session, and the energy system or systems targeted. As a rough guide, here is a table of intensity zones:

Intensity Zones Based on Bioenergetics

intensity zone typical effort duration perceived intensity main energy system used anaerobic aerobic
1 0-6 seconds maximum/sprint CP, ATP 100 0
2 6-30 seconds high CP, ATP, fast glycolysis 95-80 5-20
3 30-120 seconds strong glycolysis-fast and slow 80-50 20-50
4 2-3 minutes medium slow glycolysis and oxidative 50-40 50-60
5 3-30 minutes easy oxidative 40-5 60-95
6 greater than 30 min chill oxidative 5-2 95-98

I have tried to arrange the ordering of these workouts in roughly the same order as the above table.

60m sprints

These are to be done on a synthetic athletics track with athletics spikes. begin by warming up, then:

Mark out 60m on the finishing straight, ideally with the finish coinciding with the actual finish-line. Begin about 20m behind the starting mark and jog towards it, slowly building to a striding pace.1 On hitting the starting mark, the athlete switches to maximum intensity for the duration of the 60m. Care should be taken not to stop too abruptly after finishing each rep. Recovery between reps is “as long as it takes” which is typically 3-5 minutes. The minimum recovery time is 2 minutes. The number of reps is usually specified in the program, and is ordinarily between 4 and 10. A stopwatch is not necessary as the only important parameter is that the athlete expends a maximal effort over each 60m sprint.

A warm down jog or bike ride of at least 5 minutes should finish the session.

This session has no suitable substitute session on the bike or skates.

10 second intervals

This may be done on either skates, bike, or foot. Warm up, then proceed with 10-second maximal efforts (as close to zone 1 as you can get) followed by 5o seconds of recovery, for as many reps as is given in the training program. Consistent speed is not so important as consistent perceived effort.

100m sprints

These are to be done on a synthetic athletics track with athletics spikes. begin by warming up, then:

Start at the 100m start and finish at the finish line. These are done from a standing start but are designed as sub-maximal efforts somewhere between intensity zones 2 and 3. Athletes should concentrate on technique, in particular getting an efficient drive-phase, and then holding a good speed through the finish. Run with your whole body, not just your legs. Recovery should be between 2-3 minutes. Athletes should carry a stopwatch, and aim to run each 100m rep at exactly the same speed (it should get slightly harder towards the latter reps). The number of reps and recovery time is usually specified in the program.

A warm down jog or bike ride of at least 5 minutes should finish the session.

This may also be done on skates or a bike with a rolling start. Begin at an easy pace then accelerate to a strong pace for 150m. On a 200m skating track, for example, begin accelerating into the corner and hold a strong pace until the second corner exit. On a bike, begin in a gear such that, by the end of 150m, without changing gears, your pedaling cadence is at least 100rpm.

note: A skating relay on a 200m track with a team of 6-8 people simulates this quite well.

300m short interval

This is best done on skates on a measured track. After warming up, and doing a few accelerations:

Begin at a very easy pace, then accelerate out of a corner and hold a strong (zone 3) pace for 300m. Roll around for 45 seconds, and repeat. It is not always easy to time these, but try to keep the pace consistent from the first to the last rep. Do not rush the recovery. Warm down as usual at the end of the session.

This may also be done running or on a bike. On an athletics track, simply run 150m from a standing start with a 45 sec recovery. Try to alternate starting at the beginning of the bend with starting in the middle of the bend. While riding, go strong for 300m, then time a 45 second recovery. As with the skating, try to keep the pace even throughout the reps.

note: a skating relay (with 1-lap changes) on a 400m track with a team of 2-3 people simulates this quite well.

500m interval

This is best done on skates on a measured track. After warming up, and doing a few accelerations:

Begin at an easy pace, then accelerate and hold a strong (but not-quite-as-fast as the 300m intervals) pace for 500m. Roll around for 90 seconds and repeat. As above, try to keep the pace even from rep to rep.

Again, this is easily substitutable by running or riding. On an athletics track, run 300m from a standing start with a 90 second recovery. It is generally best to start at the 1500m start line. On a bike, go strong (but not as strong as for the 300m intervals) for 500m.

1000m intervals

These are best done on a bike. A long, flat stretch of road is required. Any kind of bike may be used, but a road bike is best. After warming up for at least 15 minutes:

In the big chainring, in a gear that is almost (or is) your highest, begin at an almost standing start, and complete 1000m at a maximal effort. On a road bike, without any wind, you should try to hit at least 50km/h. When I say “maximal”, I don’t mean zone 1, I mean do it at a pace as if you were completing a 1000m time trial. Recover for as long as it takes, but try to take at least 5 minutes. Do not “save” yourself for later reps, just go all-out in every one. (but you’ll be surprised how consistent the times will be). The number of reps varies according to the training program, but is usually somewhere between 4 and 12.

Do not do this session on skates. As lactic acid builds up (and it will), fatigue will have a detrimental effect on you skating form, and may even make it unsafe to skate (a maximal effort when you are near exhaustion will do that).

This session may be done by running, and may be done anywhere. Measure out 500m and follow the same general instructions as for the ride. Don’t worry about form, only concentrate on controlling your pace so that when you hit 500m, you have nothing left. I like to call the feeling a “slow burn”.

Bike Sprintervals

As the name suggests, this is best done on a bike. Warm up for at least 10 minutes then:

20 seconds at a maximal effort followed by 1 minute of recovery. Repeat 3 times. Following the third sprint’s recovery interval, go straight into 5 minutes at a medium pace in the big chain ring at about 80 rpm. After that, chill out for 8 minutes, trying to keep your rpm above 90. Repeat as many times as the program says (but almost always 3).

It is possible to do this running, but not advisable as it would be too heavy a session. It may be skated, but the intensity level would be significantly higher than planned. Tell your coach if you plan to do it.


I was first introduced to this on skates, but honestly I find it most effective on a bike. After a long warm up:

20 seconds easy, 20 seconds medium, 20 seconds hard… for some number of repetitions. Usually not for longer than 20 minutes.

A similar session can be done on an athletics track where the athlete runs at a medium-strong pace for 100m, then jogs lightly for 100m.

45-minute interval

A session which may be done either on a bike or on skates. It is grouped in reps lasting five minutes. The basic building blocks are 4 minutes easy with 1 minute hard, 3 minutes easy with 2 minutes hard, and 3 minutes easy with 90 seconds hard and 30 seconds sprint. Depending on where the athlete is in the training cycle, the entire workout can last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Sometimes these intervals are mixed in with a long single-pace element lasting anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. This interval is especially useful because it allows easy adjustment of both volume and intensity.


  1. a striding pace is the minimum effort which still realizes the full biomechanical extent of the running action while sprinting. In other words, you look like you are sprinting, but are neither going very fast, nor trying very hard.