6 Weeks Running Program for Soccer Players [UPDATE]

6 Weeks Running Program for Soccer Players


Playing soccer and SSGs (Small Sided Games) is always a preferred method of getting in game-shape. Unfortunately, sometimes that is not possible nor preferable. For example, being a free-agent and wanting to get in shape, coming back from the injury (although soccer practices are a must element of a good RTP – return to play – program), later off-season where one wants to have a mental break from the ball and so forth.

For these reasons I’ve designed a simple 6 weeks running program for soccer, something that you can use with your athletes on the break or have it in your toolbox and apply it if needed in the RTP protocols or as extra conditioning.

To make this program more individually tailored, I’ve used MAS – maximum aerobic speed. MAS is minimal velocity that reaches VO2max (for more info see article by Dan Baker) and represent quite interesting and easy to obtain training parameter that allows easier individualization of training intensity. In this running program I will show you how to measure and use MAS.

The program is based on three 2-week blocks:

  1. Running Fast and Slow
  2. Running Hard
  3. Running Intermittently with COD (Change of Direction)

Using this program will make sure that your athletes are coming ready-to-train from the off-season (or RTP), while providing individually tailored workouts that are not too boring to be performed.

We have also developed a simple Excel template that you can use to calculate everything in this running-based program. This makes it ready-to-use program for your athletes. Just punch the numbers in and you are ready to rumble.

Running to your current ability

There are multiple ways of measuring MAS, but for the sake of simplicity and this program we are going to use 1600m time trial. All you need is 400m track field or any other known distance. In the case of athletic 400m track, you will run 4x400m (1600m) as fast as possible. Make sure not to start too fast or else you will gas out. Start with a basic warm up, couple of strides, get some rest and hit the 1600m time trial.

To get your MAS you simply need to divide 1600m with your time in seconds. For example:

1600m time: 6 minutes [6×60 = 360sec]
MAS = 1600 [m] / 360 [sec]
MAS = 4.44 [m/s]

Don’t be frightened by the math. Like I mentioned before, I have created easy to use Excel template that will automatically do the calculations for you. Take a look at the screenshot below.


We are going to use the athletes’ MAS to calculate running intensities during the workouts, so make sure to write it down. This is the running time you want them to improve over the next 6 weeks. When their MAS improves so it will their ability to carry and recover from high intensity running and sprints. Following this workout will give your athletes great base to build upon during more specific work in the pre-season.

The Program

In the next 6 weeks we are going to implement 3 blocks. Each block is going to last for two weeks and each of them will involve 4 running workouts – two hard ones and two easy runs. So let’s start.

Block #1 – Running fast and slow

In the first block we are going to perform runs over and under your MAS. Runs over MAS will prepare you for the more intensive runs to follow, along with giving you ample time to work on quality technique, while longer runs will be your endurance bread and butter.








Week 1 & 2
Extensive run
Extensive run

Strides Workout

Strides workout, or extensive tempo, are fast and quality runs done around 130% of your MAS. Repetition durations for this workout are around 15-20sec with rest period of 40-60sec.

The goal of this workout is accumulating volume of faster quality runs without draining your body. By using strides you will be able to work on your running form and prepare your body for the hard runs to follow.

You can organize strides (as well any other workout based on MAS) by using time or distance. If you plan using time for running, you should stick to 15-20sec and if you plan using distance 80-120m will be fine.

The way you calculate your running times is pretty simple. Using MAS of 4.44 [m/s] from the previous example, you just multiply it with 1.30 and you get 5.77 [m/s]

I will provide the workouts based on time, but you can quickly adjust by using distance instead (I like using length of the soccer pitch for strides and width for walk in between). Since we have 2 weeks of 2 workouts we have 4 workouts total. Here is the progression:

Workout #1 3 sets of 8 reps of 15sec strides with 40sec rest
Workout #2 3 sets of 10 reps of 15sec strides with 40sec rest
Workout #3 4 sets of 8 reps of 15sec strides with 40sec rest
Workout #4 4 sets of 10 reps of 15sec strides with 40sec rest

Calculating distance to be run in those 15 seconds is straightforward:

MAS = 4.44 [m/s]
130% MAS = 5.77 [m/s]

Distance to be covered in 15sec = 15 [sec] x 5.77 [m/s] = 87m
100m distance (field length) in 100 [m] / 5.77 [m/s] = 17.3 sec

During the recovery period you will alternate between core movement (15 – 20 reps) and push-ups (10 – 15 reps). Recovery between sets will be a little longer, around 2 minutes during which you can perform basic stretching for hip flexors, adductors, calves and hip rotators.

So the strides workout might look like this:

10-15min Warm-up

Strides 15 sec

Rest 40sec and perform ab curls for 20 reps

Strides 15 sec

Rest 40sec and perform push-ups for 10 reps

Strides 15 sec

Rest 40sec and perform side bridge for 20 reps

Strides 15 sec

Rest 40sec and perform push-ups for 10 reps

Strides 15 sec

Rest 40sec and perform low abs (scissors) for 20 reps

Strides 15 sec

Rest 40sec and perform push-ups for 10 reps

Strides 15 sec

Rest 40sec and perform dead bugs for 20 reps

Strides 15 sec

Rest 40sec and perform push-ups for 10 reps

End of set #1

Longer rest for 2minutes (perform couple of stretches and/or dynamic moves like leg swings)

Repeat 2 more times

Extensive Run

To improve your endurance you need both intensive and extensive running. Extensive run is going to be your bread and butter we are going to keep doing through all phases. You are also going to be able to modify this run to suit your preferences, but more on this later

We are going to perform extensive run in interval fashion as well, although the intensity of the run will be a lot lower. Usually you extensive runs are performed around 60-70% MAS, or you can go by feel or even using heart rate monitors (in that case running around 80% HRmax or 140-160bpm).

You can calculate split times if you plan running of 400m track by simply dividing 400m with 60-70% MAS. In the example of 4.44 [m/s] you get the following pace:

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I am a physical preparation coach from Belgrade, Serbia, grew up in Pula, Croatia (which I consider my home town). I was involved in physical preparation of professional, amateur and recreational athletes of various ages in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, martial arts and tennis. Read More »