WRC Speed Development – 06/08/2020 – Steve Sisson: 3/2/1 Fartlek

4 August 2020 - By Scott Darney

Kicking things off for us with the Guest Sessions is Steve Sisson of Telos Running.

Steve started out as a runner at 6 years old and was racing at 8. During his running career he had very respectable finishes at the NCAA (USA National Collegiate Athletic Association) including 3rd in the indoor 5000m and 5th in the outdoor 10000m which led him on to representing the USA in the World Half Marathon Championships in Belgium.

Based in Austin, Texas he has been coaching now for over 25 years at all levels including young athletes and high schoolers right up to coaching a professional sponsored team and British Olympian 3000m Steeple chaser Lennie Wait at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

He was the founder, owner and head coach of Rogue Running from 2004-2018 before starting a new journey with Telos Running where he promises to uncover a deeper purpose for running and life.  I believe that his slogan for Telos, “Running on Purpose” really identifies with his belief that running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other – it’s about recognising that you have a purpose for running beyond the times and the goals.

Steve was my co-coach when I participated in the pilot of the Rogue Podcast Training program in Spring 2018 and I enjoyed his no-nonsense, to the point coaching. This wasn’t always his method, but there is often a time and place to be reminded to #JFR – and he was responsible for this hashtag that I still use to this day (Just F’ing Run!).

Whilst I stayed with Rogue for my training, I have reached out to Steve on few occaisions to ask for some advice on my running and coaching and he has always gnereous with the time and thought put into his responses, so when I asked him if he’d provide us with a workout he was naturally happy to oblige.

So in his own words, the 3/2/1 Fartlek:


“This session can get implemented in a number of different ways, all of which create a different challenge. I present it here as I typically approach it and then provide a few different variations.

A fundamental workout in my training program, this simple session may look pretty easy on the surface but looks can be deceiving. If you bring the appropriate intent and run the paces or efforts as described, this session is very challenging.

When I coached collegiate & elite athletes, this was a cross-country staple. It was the first session I would give after a summer break and one I would bring back once a month or so, on the same cross country course so they could see how their fitness was improving. I use it with my marathoners, to teach them to gear change and have a feel for paces faster than half and marathon pace.

I’ll choose flat courses if I want my athletes to fly and tough hilly courses if I want to add a greater challenge. This is a great all-purpose session. 2 sets of this session is only 24 min of work, but its a challenge. The 3 min is the full challenge & it takes 36 min to complete. Of course, you can always just keep rolling through the sets for the desired time and get a solid workout.

2-3 Sets of:

  • 3 min at 10K pace w/ 3 min of easy running
  • 2 min at 5K pace w/ 2 min of easy running
  • 1 min at 3K-1M pace w/ 1 min easy running
  • then right back into the next set.

The gear changing in this session is the key to getting the most out of the workout and the short 1 min rest after running at the fast pace really makes this session unique. I am a huge fan of workouts that require you to cutdown your paces/effort & this one really ratchets the pace down and requires a strong commitment to get the work done, as written. Don’t skimp on the hard 1 minute. This is the magic of this session.

Ways to adapt

  • Make the paces half marathon, 10K, 5K for a kinder, gentler session or start at 5K & cut to 3k, 1M for a much harder one.
  • Effort Based: if you don’t want to focus on paces & prefer efforts, which I think it the best way to implement this one, then I suggest doing the 3 min at a steady, 2 min medium hard & 1 min hard.
  • As mentioned above, change your surface between flats & hills to add variety. This is a fantastic cross country workout. If I were implementing based on paces for XC, I would make the 3 min at your goal race distance pace and then cutdown from there.”


So there you have it, Steve Sissons 3/2/1 Fartlek.

If you want to learn more about Steve, you can find details of his podcast training programs on his website listed at the bottom (including a free base building programn) and you can also listen to his podcasts in the usual places. Steve Sisson also appears on the Rogue Running Podcast from episodes 1-101.

As usual, any questions please let me know and we welcome feedback on the website and facebook.

Thank you to Steve for providing this weeks workout.


Steve Sisson: Telos Running Website | Facebook

Leave a reply