How to Do Interval Running Part 2

Follow the link for How to Do Interval Running Part 1.

Interval running, an effective method to improve running speed and overall fitness, involves short, high-intensity intervals followed by longer lower-intensity rest periods. Here's how to kickstart your journey into interval running, starting with warming up correctly.

The Right Warming Up for an Interval Workout

how to do interval running
When you are going to do hard workouts, such as interval runs or tempo runs you will want to warm up properly. This gradually prepares your body for the high-intensity workout ahead, reducing susceptibility to injuries.

So follow my lead, this is the warming-up regime I usually follow: commence your warm-up session with five to ten minutes of light jogging. This helps to elevate heart rate, pump more oxygen to muscles and warm up your joints, thereby preparing your body for the upcoming vigorous activity of interval running.

After light jogging, proceed with some dynamic stretching, targeting key muscle groups used in running, such as hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Unlike static stretching, dynamic stretching mimics the motions of running, making it more suitable for a warm-up.

For more detail on this warm-up, check out my page on running stretches.

The Signs of Overexertion when Doing an Interval Workout

how to do interval running
When you are getting used to doing intervals, you may do them too fast. This can lead to overexertion. It is important to recognise these moments. And if it happens, I'd highly recommend you cut your workout short.

Common signs of overexertion are:

  • A severe reduction in speed.

  • Inability to finish the interval

  • Breathlessness and dizziness

  • Being tuned in to your body helps in identifying overexertion. If your heart rate fails to restore to a baseline range during rest intervals, it can reflect overexertion. To stay safe, make sure to gradually increase your training load.

    Let those first few weeks of intervals be a little easy. It is a good feeling when you finish your interval workout and you feel like you could have gone a bit longer!

    Cooling Down after Interval Running

    how to do interval running
    Cooling down after interval running aids in reducing muscle stiffness and aids the process of recovery. Never finish your workout with a fast interval. It is much better to do a 5-10 minute jog after your last interval rather than abruptly finishing your workout. This starts the process of bringing your heart rate down. When you are really tired, you can replace the jog with a walk.

    After your run, you can do some static stretches as explained on the running stretches page. This helps to reduce muscle tension and improve flexibility.

    Best Terrain for Intervals

    how to do interval running
    Without a doubt, the best place to do intervals is on flat and even surfaces. An athletics track is great if you have access to it. But if you don't, that's quite alright as well.

    Find a path that is a bit quieter and without traffic lights or crossings. Basically somewhere where you don't have to worry about looking out for cars, navigating past other pedestrians etc.

    When you have created those circumstances for yourself, you have got the best control on managing your output in each interval. Simple as that.

    Sure, you can do intervals in the hills as well. When you are practicing for a hilly trail race or ultra in the hills or mountains, doing a lot of your running, including intervals, in the hills as well is logical.

    But, I am assuming you belong to the majority of runners who might be running for fitness, for weight loss and maybe for a local 5k, half marathon or even marathon. For you, flat surfaces work best.

    How to Incorporate Intervals into Your Weekly Routine

    how to do interval running
    When you are starting out, you are probably doing 3-4 runs per week. And your focus should be on building a strong endurance base. So the majority of your running should be slow and easy.

    Therefore do a maximum of one workout per week that is faster than easy running. One interval session is plenty when you are starting out.

    Once your body adapts to this form of training, you can gradually increase to two hard sessions per week, with ample recovery time in-between. Balance your interval training with relaxed, easier and longer runs.

    Common Mistakes When Doing Interval Workouts

    how to do interval running
    Avoiding common mistakes in interval running can make your workouts more effective and safe. Let's cover some common issues.

    Too Fast
    A frequent mistake is overdoing the speed during high-interval sessions. This can lead to fatigue midway through the workout or even injury.

    Skipping Recovery Time
    Skipping recovery time in between high-intensity intervals is also another pitfall to avoid. The recovery period in between is as important as the fast interval. It allows your heart rate to lower and your body to regenerate before the next intense phase.

    Too Many Hard Workouts in a Week
    Running consistently at fast paces during all your workouts in the week could lead to overtraining and plateauing in performance. Many of us, when we begin to run, run our easy runs too fast. As a result, when it comes to our intervals, we start them tired and do them too slow.

    It's much better to maintain a balance between hard and easy workouts in your weekly running schedule.

    how to do interval running
    Forgetting to Warm Up and Cool Down
    Another common mistake is not warming up or cooling down properly. As covered earlier, warm-ups and cool-downs are an important part of interval workouts. They help prepare your body and aid in recovery post-workout, respectively.

    Trying to Keep Up With Faster Runners
    When you are new to running and you are running with a group, you might feel tempted to match the pace of more experienced runners during interval sessions. But remember everyone has their unique pace. To steer clear from injuries and preserve performance, it is vital to run at a pace suitable for your fitness level.


    In a nutshell, interval running can be an empowering training routine that can boost your running performance and overall fitness. Whether you're planning to incorporate interval workouts, fartlek workouts, or other types of hard runs, remember the tips on this page.

    Understanding your body, warming up, running on suitable terrains, listening to your body for signs of overexertion, cooling down, as well as integrating your interval running correctly into your weekly schedule is essential to keep improving performance without an increased injury risk or compromising your enjoyment.

    Remember, steady progression is key to sustained success and enjoyment in the sport. Happy running!

    Oh, and if you missed part 1 of this article, check it out by following the link: How to Do Interval Running Part 1

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