How to Do Interval Running
Intervals are a great way to add variety to your running AND improve your running performance.
Now, let's explore this question of 'how to do interval running', together.
How to Do Interval Running - The Basics
It sounds complicated, but it's as easy as pie. Well, easier even, because you don't even need an oven. Interval running simply means alternating between periods of high-intensity running and low-intensity recovery periods.
For instance, you might run at a higher speed for a minute, then walk or jog for two. You're doing a workout, but you're taking breaks. How cool is that?
Benefits of Interval Running
Improve oxygen delivery to the muscles
One major benefit is that running at interval intensity improves the oxygen delivery to your muscles. Intervals put a certain amount of stress on your body. Just try running at interval intensity for longer than five minutes! Very hard! Those peak intensity spurts condition your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently. Which eventually means you can run faster and go for longer. Not bad, huh?
More calories burned
Interval running also burns more calories than steady-state running. High intensity spurts fire up metabolism, leading to more calories burned even after your workout thanks to a phenomenon called 'afterburn'. It's like eating a slice of cake without feeling the guilt. Right on!
Improve mental resilience
Excitingly, interval training also supports mental resilience. It cultivates a mindset of breaking boundaries and tolerating discomfort. This definitely helps on race day. But when you become more resilient and mentally tough, it can also transfer to other areas of your life.
Need another reason to try interval running? Consider this: it adds variety to your workouts, helping to fight the boredom that can set in with regular jog sessions. Mixing higher and lower intensity running can provide a welcome break from more monotonous runs.
Furthermore, you don’t need to devote a massive chunk of your day to intervals, you could fit your training into a busy schedule as it’s time-efficient. A short but intense workout can yield similar benefits to a longer, steady workout. Now that's what I call a productivity hack!
Starting Interval Running as a Beginner
Start with a warm-up with light jogging or fast walking. This warms your muscles up and preps them for the workout. Think of it as the appetizer before the main course!
A good starting point for interval workouts is a 1:2 ratio of work vs recovery. Run at a higher intensity for a minute, then recover at a lower intensity for two minutes.
That may still feel very tough as a beginner. You can adjust the work:rest ratio accordingly. You could start off with a work:rest ratio of 1:3. Then as you get more used to it, move to 1:2 and eventually a ratio of 1:1, i.e. your intervals take just as long as your recovery periods.
You will find that as you progress, you'll be able to stay at high intensity for longer intervals, and need less recovery time in between.
Fartlek Running - The Ideal Intro to Intervals
In practice, fartlek running might involve sprinting to the next mailbox, then jogging to the third lamppost. There's no formal structure, you just decide on the spot. Its fluid nature makes it the perfect way to gently immerse yourself in interval running. Also see the fartlek workouts page for more information.
Advanced Interval Workouts
Now, let’s move on to advanced workouts, as progress is part of the running journey! Once you've mastered the basics and started to feel comfortable, you can start to add more complex interval workouts. Don't be afraid, you've got this!
As discussed before, when you are starting to do intervals, you might start with unstructured fartleks. Then you might progress to short intervals with a low work:rest ratio. E.g. 30 seconds hard / 2 minutes recovery; 1 minute hard / 2-3 minutes recovery.
As you progress, you can play with two variables:
Pyramids or Ladders
Fancy variations include pyramid or ladder intervals. These involve starting with a short high-intensity period, then gradually increasing the duration, before decreasing it again, much like the shape of a pyramid. For instance, you could run at higher speed for 1, 2, 3, 2, and 1 minute intervals, with similar recovery periods in between.
Combination with other types of running
A more advanced workout is one in which you combine tempo and interval running in the one workout. Examples of workouts I use (excluding description of warm-up and cooldown):
There are countless variations you can design, but the above workouts are some of the ones I use.
Conclusion and Further Recommended Reading
Sure, you may experience a hurdle or two along the way as you adjust to this newfound technique. But you're a runner, you're built to overcome hurdles. Plus, with every stride you take, you're making progress.
In the end, it's all about making your workouts enjoyable and effective. By understanding how to do interval running, you're ahead of the game. So I encourage you to give interval workouts a crack! You've got this!
Can I also recommend you read part 2 of this article. In that article I cover off some more advanced information such as:
Click the link to check out How to Do Interval Running Part 2!
Are you a beginning runner? Then this is your best starting point. Many tips and running programs on offer, dedicated to you.
Aiming to lose a few pounds? Get into the Running for Weight Loss section for tips and advice.
The Running Training section of the site has got the most articles. It is constantly getting updated with new tips and information. A must-visit if you are serious about improving your running performance.
The 5k is a great distance to run and train for. The great thing is that you can do it quite often and see big improvements.
The 10k is a real challenge. You need to run fast for an uncomfortably long time! Check out this section if you are strong of mind and legs!
The marathon is a massive challenge. Proper training is so important! Make sure to check out this section if you have got your mind set on the marathon!
Discover effective and easy ways to treat black toenail. Understand causes, symptoms, prevention methods. Visit best-running-tips.com now to learn more.
Have you got some pain in your heel when running? Check out this page to learn about common causes, what to do about your heel pain and when to visit the doctor.
In this section of Best Running Tips I will tell you about the most common running injuries. Learn about them so you know how to prevent them !
This short article provides a list of foot and ankle strengthening exercises that can improve your foot stability and prevent heel pain when running.
I am 68 years old. I have been a runner for 33 years doing mostly 5 and 10K race with one half marathon. I usually run a 5K in 25-27 minutes and the