Cut-downs are sprint sessions where the sprint pace increases for each repeat as the athlete works on improving their speed and form.


  1. Warm-up by jogging easily for minimum of 15 minutes
  2. Run fast 3 times over approximately 100m, increasing the speed each time
  3. Take 2-3 minutes easy recovery jog to regain your breath and return to the start
  4. After the set of 3 take 5-minutes easy jog recovery
  5. Repeat.

Important points: 

  • Run FAST but RELAXED.
  • The first 100m should be about 1500m/mile race pace.
  • The second one about 800m race pace
  • The third one at 400m race pace – in other words progress from running quickly to even quicker and then quickest.
  • Practice going faster by increasing leg turnover rather then lengthening your stride.
  • Let your body decelerate naturally at the end of each 100

Rate of perceived effort:

6-7 (85-90% VO2Max)

Experienced competitors/elites: 

The standard cut-down workout allows athletes of all levels to work at their maximum speed but the specialised demands, strengths and weaknesses of many top level competitors means this sessions constitutes just one of many that could be selected.

It is beyond the scope of this workout guide to provide a list of all the possible permutations but a few sample workouts adapted from “Better Training for Distance Runners” by Dave E. Martin and Peter Coe should illustrate the principle:

  • 150m, 120m, 90m, 60m repetitions with 3 minute walk recovery (RPE 9)
  • 4 sets of 4 x 30m. Run the first set of four at 3000m intensity, the second at 1 mile intensity, third at 800m intensity and final at 200m-400m intensity. Two minute active recovery between repetitions and 5 minute rests between each set


  • Anaerobic high energy phosphate metabolism (alactic)
  • Speed


  • Relaxation while running fast

Biggest mistakes:

  • Forcing speed by tensing muscles and reinforcing poor form
  • Not allowing adequate recovery by running too fast in between sprints and forcing the body into anaerobic glycolysis


A flat uniform surface with no sharp turns is essential for this type of workout. An athletics track will provide the best training ground with sports pitches being useful alternatives.  If your sports pitch doesn’t proivde a 100m straight, consider using diagonal across pitch.


Continuous cut-downs: run continuous laps of 300 jog/100 stride.

Workout descriptions are adapted from BreakThrough Running with permission.


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Director and coach at Borg Coaching Services
Rene Borg is the head coach of Glendalough AC and a passionate runner competing over all distances and terrains.

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