Even Steven Workout



I’ve coached Bonnie for more years than I can remember. She’s an amazing person who balances her career as a university professor and researcher with her passion for running. During our time together, she’s set PRs at all distances, and even run a 3:30 debut marathon at age 46.

Like most of us who balance career, family and running, it’s not uncommon for Bonnie to face a “hell week” at work. These usually correspond to when a grant or research paper is due or she’s attending an academic conference. Also like most of us, she sometimes faces weeks where she just needs a break from the grind of putting in the miles and workouts. During her tough stretches, I’ve learned to give her different workouts than I would normally prescribe if focused solely on her goal race. Instead, I take into account her life stress, planning ahead for periods of increased stress with an altered training plan.

But I also know that she’s driven to be a better runner and my just saying, “Run easy this week” won’t work for her. I created the Even Steven Workout to help Bonnie survive these challenging weeks. It gives her a mental and physical outlet to not only help her running but provide the break from life that her daily runs offer.

The Even Steven Workout (so named because all the repeats and intervals are even numbers of minutes) hits all the energy systems and leaves athletes refreshed. It works for men and women, young and old. It works for marathoners and high school cross country runners. In short, it’s a great workout to slot into your training plan whenever you’re going to be overworked or simply need a fun recovery workout.


Note that I say “effort” and not “pace” for each of these repeats. I don’t want athletes to worry about pace. This workout is all about effort. Just let it flow and find your best rhythm for each repeat length. Hide your GPS and avoid marked courses. Run this free from external data and simply tune in to your internal effort level. You’ll find the progressive nature of the workout and the effort-based focus will provide just the workout you need during stressful times.

As Bonnie will tell you, this is one of those workouts that looks easy on paper but is quite a test of endurance and speed when completed. After doing the workout the first time as described at the right, begin to adjust it based on your needs. For example, you may want to avoid the 5K effort repeat if you’re fried from too much speed work. Likewise, you may want to avoid the marathon-effort repeat if you want a more speed-focused workout. No matter what your desire, the Even Steven Workout can be modified to fit your needs. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

The Even Steven Workout

Start with your usual pre-workout warm-up. Then run the following in order:

Run 10 minutes at marathon effort
Jog 2 minutes at your easy-run effort
Run 8 minutes at half marathon effort
Jog 4 minutes
Run 6 minutes at 10K effort
Jog 6 minutes
Run 4 minutes at 5K effort
Jog 8 minutes
Run 2 minutes at slightly faster than 5K effort
Jog 10 minutes as your cool-down

The Short Steven Workout

The Short Steven is great when you’re in a big hurry but want to get in a workout. It’s also great for high school runners, who might eventually find two sets of Short Stevens to be best.

Run 5 minutes at marathon effort
Jog 2 minutes at your easy-run effort
Run 4 minutes at half marathon effort
Jog 3 minutes
Run 3 minutes at 10K effort
Jog 4 minutes
Run 2 minutes at 5K effort
Jog 5 minutes
Run 1 minute at slightly faster than 5K effort
Jog 10 minutes as your cool-down

Next: The 5 principles of training the McMillan way

Remove the guesswork from training to achieve your best performance with McMillan Running Training Plans.

For every distance between 800 meters and the marathon, these scientifically-based training plans include your McMillan Calculator training paces integrated, coach’s notes, and access to our prehab routines. Plus, the plans are delivered on a runner-friendly training log platform. Learn more.

Written By Greg McMillan
Called “one of the best and smartest distance running coaches in America” by Runner’s World’s Amby Burfoot, Greg McMillan is renowned for his ability to combine the science of endurance performance with the art of real-world coaching. While getting his graduate degree in Exercise Science he created the ever-popular McMillan Running Calculator – called “The Best Running Calculator” by Outside Magazine. A National Champion runner himself, Greg coaches runners from beginners to Boston Qualifiers (15,000+ and counting!) to Olympians.

Read Greg’s Bio




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