Progression Run + Explosion of Thomas the Train

This past weekend was a cut-back long week.  I follow the “build, build, build, easy” concept when it comes to my long runs.  The last three weekends had been 10, 12, and 14…Saturday was supposed to be 8, but I decided to make it a speedy 6 and leave some extra miles for Sunday since I knew the weather was going to be unseasonably mild:

I’ve been doing all of my speedwork and tempo runs on the treadmill, so I wanted to see how it felt to push the pace a bit outside and decided to do a progression run:

  • Mile 1: 7:47 (warm-up)
  • Mile 2: 7:19
  • Mile 3: 7:17
  • Mile 4: 7:14
  • Mile 5: 7:09
  • Mile 6: 6:59
  • 6 miles: 43:50
  • Average Pace: 7:17

The last mile was tough – I wanted my watch to say sub-7 SO badly.  I miscalculated and was at 5.85 when I reached my home (such a kick in the pants to have to run by my home).  6:59 is the first sub-7 minute mile outside that I have had since I found out I was pregnant last Jan =)

Progression runs are hands down my favorite type of run.  I often incorporate them onlong runs, tempo runs, and even easy days.

A progression run is simply a run in which you finish faster than you start.  There are a TON of different ways you can do progression runs:

  • Miles: This is how I prefer to do my progression runs.  Basically, my goal is to run each mile faster than the previous mile.  I start super slow and end super fast (for me).
  • Thirds: Separate your run into three equal parts.  The first 1/3 should be the slowest, the middle 1/3 should be faster and the final 1/3 should be your fastest
  • End Fast: I do this on a lot of my easy runs.  I always try to make the last mile or two my fastest – not super fast, but aiming to be close to my half or marathon goal pace.

Progression runs:

  • Force me to start slow.  I know I won’t be able to run the full progression run correctly if I start too fast
  • Are a great way to do a short tempo run or speedwork without devoting a ton of miles to it (the last 1-2 miles are usually at a pretty fast pace for me)
  • Satiate my competitive nature.  I am basically competing against myself when I do a progression run – I have to beat my previous mile time.  Nobody wants to lose to themself. HA.
  • Make the miles go by quickly.  I only focus on the current mile and concentrate on running that one faster than the previous
  • Are a HUGE confidence booster.  There is nothing as satisfying as finishing a run (regardless of distance) super fast – and feeling strong and in control

If you want to learn more about progression runs, check out these articles by McMillan Running and Runners World.


Saturday afternoon was my son’s 2nd Birthday Party.  Our home looked like Thomas the Train exploded. My son’s obsession with Thomas the Train paraphernalia knows no bounds.  From the moment he wakes up in the morning until bedtime, my son eats, breathes, and lives Thomas.  So having a Thomas-themed party this year was a no-brainer for my husband and me.  Balloons, tableclothes, wall decals, cake…were all Thomas.

Do you incorporate progression runs into your training plan?  Do you enjoy them? 

Favorite-theme for birthday parties?  So far this one is my favorite!!  I am amazed that you can buy Thomas-everything for a birthday party (down to confetti for the tables!)

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    38 thoughts on “Progression Run + Explosion of Thomas the Train

    1. Pingback: Want To Run Faster? Start Here. |

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    4. This training cycle I did a lot of progression runs, not because they were on my schedule but because I loved getting faster throughout my run. Congrats on your first sub-7 since the baby. I am sure that will be just a blip very very soon.

      My daughters have always had their obsessions making birthday themes easy. Happy Birthday to your little guy!!!

    5. A progression run sounds like exactly what I’ve been needing. I usually start fast and end a little slower than that. Mostly I’m pretty consistent on shorter/mid-length runs. It would be a real lesson (for this newbie) to force myself to pay attention to my pace and what it feels like to run at a chosen pace. Interesting thoughts…. Thanks!
      PS – congrats on that fast outside mile! Woot! recently posted..Sixteen on Sunday!My Profile

    6. Love progression runs – most of my runs end up like this.
      We have had many Thomas parties – things of the past now!!!

      • I told my husband that our 2nd son is going to have a Thomas party down the road – we have a WHOLE box of things for it that I dont’ want to waste! HA. =)

      • That’s how I got into doing them this way too! It’s so much fun to end faster than you start – regardless of how the run goes, you feel happy and strong at the end =)

    7. Holy Speed Batman! err Thomas? :)

      I haven’t planned progression runs before – but have had it happen naturally or when I have wanted to beat a previous 5k time. I have been kicking up my speed at the end of each run lately but it is in a short time time period.

      Side question – is that the Garmin 405? How do you like it? Trying to decide between a 310xt or 405 currently.
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      • Deana – it’s the Garmin 610. I love it…it’s a touch screen (still has a start/stop and lap button on the side)…I’m probably not even using a percentage of all of the features that it has though! Looking back, I probably should have gotten the 405!
        And thank you =) Hehe

      • Oh thank you! So glad that it is helpful!!! It’s a super fun way to work on speed without doing an actual speed workout =)
        Let me know how it goes when you do one!!!
        What races are you running this spring?

      • Definitely give it a try! It makes the run so much more fun and entertaining for me =)
        I made the mistake yesterday of having 3 big hills at miles 8 and 9 – It was NOT fun!
        Let me know how it goes after you do it =)

    8. That is an awesome run! I try to do progression runs but they never come out perfect like that…although I have never tried to do them on the treadmill. I always end up doing something like this
      8:30,8:20,7:50,8:10,7:50,7:30. I always end up faster but have 1 or 2 slower miles in the middle….
      Great job with the sub 7!!!! Love the birthday party!!!!!!!

      • Oh Jen! Me too! So many of mine aren’t “perfect” like this one was…typically the longer the run, the more likely it is that it won’t be perfect – lol. =)

        • Although I bet it is super nice when they work out that way!!!! I am totally going to try one on the treadmill though! My husband is out of town so I have been doing my workouts on the treadmill so might as well give it a try!

          • I can’t help but do progression runs on the treadmill. I can never run more than 1 mile at the same pace. I get too bored. So I always just make it one or two clicks faster. LOL. I think it’s slightly OCD, but hey, it helps me run faster =)

    9. Oh the explosion of Thomas paraphernalia! I knew that well! Love the cake. My favorite birthday theme party (maybe the only theme party we’ve done) was a subway party for J when he turned 3. Cupcakes with colored frosting and party hats for the different subway lines. It was fun but a lot of work! Great job on your run too!! I love progression runs too!
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      • I LOVE that idea!! What a NYC-ish themed party!! I would like to say that I did a lot for this party, but most of it was store-bought. LOL. My mom made Thomas cupcakes though – so at least that was homemade =)

    10. Great run! I feel the same way about running fast outdoors… when I’ve been doing most of my speedwork on the treadmill. It’s like you want to prove it on the pavement. Progression runs are the best, nothing feels better than finishing strong. Congrats on your first sub 7 off the treadmill post pregnancy!! :)
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      • YAY! Glad I’m not the only one who feels the need to prove it on the pavement! I’m now planning to do my mile repeats outside tomorrow – AGH!
        Thank you – it felt great to see that ‘6’ =)

      • Thanks, Laura! I’m so pumped about it that I’m planning to do my speed workout (mile repeats) outside. NEED to get more comfortable running fast on the pavement!
        Hope you are recovering from your amazing run this weekend!

    11. It’s incredible to me that 7:47 is a slow start, I’ve never run that fast in my life! I love progression runs too, I just never knew they were called that :) I just have a hard time telling out how fast I’m actually going, so I usually push too hard just to make sure I’m faster than the previous mile.

    12. Love, love, love progression runs! Probably b/c it plays to my strong suit, which is negative splitting. Tomorrow I have a 9-miler with six miles of progression starting at mile two. Can’t wait!

      Oh I miss the Thomas days! My son was completely and totally obsessed with Thomas! It was a 24/7 thing for a solid 2-3 years. I could probably still recite some of the stories by heart after all this time! Enjoy this time!
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      • I negative split like a crazy person in training runs and then totally break ALL of the rules I know (and believe in) on race day. SO stupid. HA.
        The trains are additions to our family – he talks about them as if they are real people (and now I do too) =)

    13. I have never done a progression run, but after this post I am going to give it a try. I definitely love finishing a run on a strong and positive note.

    14. Great run! I’m more of an intervals fan than progression runs just because I like the feeling of running really fast and then having recovery. :) But of course I do progression runs too and crave the feeling after a great one!

      Love AJ’s birthday party pics!
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