Hey guys, I'm still not feeling up to writing or training just yet, I hope you can understand. But here are a few things I worked on with my coach a while back. See you soon.
This post and tips are a collaboration with my running coach.
Do you want to try intervals but you have no idea where to start, what distance to run, or how long you should recover? Or are you already running intervals on a track but want to take your workout outside? Here are some tips to help you incorporate intervals into your training.
Before adding intervals into your running routine, you should have a solid running base. I would suggest you add interval training once you are comfortably running 3 times a week.
What Are Intervals?
Intervals might also be called speed work, repeats, fartlek, repetitions, or interval training. When you head out for your run, there are segments of the run which are run at a faster pace, with ‘recovery’ time after each prescribed segment (usually slow jogging or walking). Intervals are usually based on distance, but can be based on time with a less structured workout. When you see ‘interval’, the word actually refers to the length of the recovery time. However, most training guides apply the word interval for the ‘repetition’ which is the fast-paced segment of the workout.
Why Should I Run Intervals?
Including intervals in your running workouts are a great idea, especially for runners stuck in a pace rut and those looking to improve their time. Interval training can improve your running form, improve endurance and improve Vo2 max (Just in case you’re lost – Vo2 max is the highest rate at which your body can transport oxygen to your muscles to be used for activity. Basically, the higher your Vo2 max, the higher your cardiovascular fitness!)
Mentally, intervals increase your ability to ‘tough out’ harder running and have an added benefit of making your regular pace, or your race pace, seem easier in comparison.
What Length Intervals Should I Run?
If you’re training for a race, let the race length be your guide. In general, the longer the race, the longer your intervals. Of course, there are a lot of factors involved, like your current fitness, the intensity of your training plan, the length of time spent training, and where you are in your plan. If you are unfamiliar with intervals, I would use the following as a beginners’ guide to length of intervals:
Just for reference- 200 meters (0.124 miles), 400 meters (quarter mile), 800 meters (half mile) intervals.
How Many Intervals Should I Run?
There is no hard and fast rule for how many intervals you should run. Make sure you have a set plan going in to the workout, so you are pushing yourself to finish. If you’re just starting out, you might want to try 4 – 6 intervals, then base your next session of intervals on how difficult it felt and how your body felt afterwards.
As a general rule, unless you are following a specific training plan that calls for more, you should stick to just one speed workout a week, in order to allow your body to rest. Remember, it’s when your body is resting that your muscles recover, repair and grow stronger!
How Fast Should I Run Intervals?
If you have raced before, base your speed on your race paces. Short intervals could be done at 5K pace, or 10K pace. Longer intervals can be done at 15K pace, half marathon pace, or marathon pace. Your speed will depend on you current fitness level, and your goal.
How Long and How Fast Should the Recovery Segment Be?
There are so many variables in interval training, there is not one cut and dry answer. Basically, the recovery segment of your interval training is what dictates the intensity of the workout. If you are trying intervals for the first time, begin by seeing how it feels to run a 1:1 work to recovery ratio. So, if for example, you are doing half mile repeats at a 9:00 minute mile pace, the half mile will take 4.5 minutes. So your recovery at the 1:1 ratio would be roughly 4 minutes (not a distance).
The speed for recovery is also dependent on the intensity of the workout and the speed of the intervals themselves. Base it on how you feel! You can always cut a speed workout short, increase recovery time, or do less intervals if you feel like it’s way too hard. Just like you build your long run distance over time, get your body used to speed work before you go all out.
How Do I Work Out Intervals Distance Without a Track?
If you have a GPS watch, then you are all set. Take note of your mileage at the beginning of each interval and check your watch during your interval to see when you hit the required distance. With most GPS watches you can also make each interval a split as well, so you can compare split times for each segment once you’re home.
Without a GPS, the internet is your friend. Check out different online mapping tools for runners, so you can find sections of your local park, or regular running route, that match the distance you want to run for intervals. Be careful to pick a spot that’s roughly a straight line (you don’t want any turns when you’re running a repeat) and try to find somewhere as flat as possible. If you run on a road, you can always use your car’s speedometer to map out a good interval spot.
Ready to Get Started?
Try these interval workouts to add some intensity to your running workouts, but remember, you can build your own intervals workout, based on the tips above!
Dream Big. Work Hard. :)