The Power of Add-Ons

Add-ons are my new training best-friend. It’s only in the last year or so that I have started using them, after a coach friend set me some character building sessions, but now I totally swear by them.

What Is An Add-On?

An add-on is any low volume addition to a normal training session. The add-on usually provides a different training stimulus to the main session and doesn’t drastically alter the difficulty of the session. Any session can have an add-on, from an easy run to your hard track workout of the week.


1. After an easy run a great add-on is a set of 6-8 hill reps or strides of 8-10 seconds. This provides a neuromuscular stimulus and forces your body to recruit deeper muscle fibres helping maintain power and running economy.

2. During an interval session. Take a 12 x 400m session, you could:

– Add 5-10 mins tempo at the beginning of your session to stimulate a different aerobic intensity (typically lactate threshold) and act as a brilliant warm up to the main session. Feeling brave? Try 5 mins before and 5 mins after the session.

– Time trial. Why not try a short distance time trial before the main session to target paces you wouldn’t otherwise hit and to give your legs a little fatigue for the main session. 200m, 400m, 800m or even up to a mile – it’s up to you! Make sure you allow adequate recovery between the add-on and the main interval session.

The Benefits of Running Add-Ons:

  • Variety is the key to successful training. Add-ons allow you to target paces that you may otherwise neglect if they are not specific to your training goals. Fast runners are generally fast across all distances.
  • Add-ons allow you to squeeze every last drop of training stimulus out of your session.
  • Maintenance. You may be targeting a 5k, but you should still “maintain” other training zones/paces to be successful across all distances. Lack of modulation in training leads to staleness.
  • Fatigue. Running sessions on slightly fatigued legs can reap fantastic rewards, especially in terms of deeper fibre recruitment. Hit the next level!
  • Enjoyment! Bored of 10k pace reps over and over again? Add-ons can be genuinely enjoyable.
    Time trial add-ons are a great way to monitor progress.

Add-ons are limited only by your imagination. Try and keep the following principles in mind:

1. Use the add-on to target a different training stimulus than the session targets or you normally target (an easy one here for most is maximal speed)

2. The add-on should be short enough, with enough recovery, to not overly fatigue and impact the main session.

The possibilities are endless.