Broad Street Run Training: The 10-Minute Workout to Help You PR

Want to improve your time at the Broad Street Run? Try this.



Let’s say you have two identical bicycles, one with treaded mountain bike tires and the other with smooth road bike tires. Which bike would you rather ride on the roads? The obvious choice, of course, would be the one with road tires. Here’s why: Road tires will have less resistance, meaning you’ll get further with each pedal. You’ll be more efficient on a bike with road tires and therefore will be able to achieve higher speeds with less energy. 

What do bicycle tires have to do with running? Similar to the road tires, the more efficient your running stride, the less resistance and energy will be needed at any given pace, and as a result your pace will feel easier. This is what’s called running economy, “a measure of how much fuel it takes for you to travel a certain distance,” according to Runner’s World. Your takeaway is this: The more efficient you are, the less energy you spend.

How to Improve Your Running Economy

There are a few ways to upgrade your running economy: adding mileage, running fast, including strength and plyometric exercises in your training. Perhaps the quickest and easiest way is to include some short bursts of speed training on regular basis.

This becomes particularly important for anyone training for the Broad Street Run or any race with a distance of 10 miles or more. Most adult runners get stuck in a routine of focusing on distance when training for the longer races, and doing very little speed work. Don’t fall into that trap.

The 10-Minute Running-Economy Workout

Here’s a workout that won’t take more than 10 minutes, and if done on a regular basis will positively affect your running economy.

The workout: At the end of a run, include a few short pickups at a pace anywhere from your 5K- to one-mile race pace. If you don’t know your 5K pace, these shouldn’t be run all-out but run at what I call a “comfortably fast” pace. Structure these short pickups as a fartlek — bursts of speed, followed by recovery — during the last 10 minutes of your run. For example, with 10 minutes left on the clock, run 15 seconds fast followed by 45 seconds easy and repeat this four to 10 times, depending on your ability. As you get comfortable, you can start to increase the time you’re running fast — for example, 20 seconds fast followed by 40 seconds easy.

Here are my recommended starting points for runners of various fitness levels:

  • Beginner runners: Do 4 x 15 seconds fast followed by 45 seconds easy jog. Each week, add one more rep, topping out a total of 8.
  • Intermediate runners: Do 6 x 15 seconds fast followed by 45 seconds easy jog. Each week, add one more rep, topping out a total of 10.
  • Advanced runners: Do 8 x 15 seconds fast followed by 45 seconds easy jog. After a few weeks, look to increase the fast portion to 20 seconds followed by 40 seconds easy.

When to Do This Workout

The ideal time to do your pickups will be the day before a hard workout or long run. This may seem counterintuitive, but the speed bursts are short enough that you shouldn’t feel tired or sore after doing them. If you find you’re overly sore or exhausted the following day, you went too hard. Try backing off a bit next time.


Cory Smith, a Philadelphia based running coach, shares his expert advice as an American Cancer Society DetermiNation running coach; founder of Run Your Personal Best, a private running-coaching business; and head cross country coach at Penn State Brandywine. He is a USA Track and Field-certified coach and a 4:03 miler. As a student athlete at Villanova, Cory was an NCAA Division One Regional and National Championship qualifier. Contact Cory at Read all of Cory’s posts for Be Well Philly here.

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