How do I run faster? That question can be main focus of many professional athletes, track and cross country runners, and even beginning and intermediate casual runners. A lot of race training plans suggest that you do intervals – also known as speedwork. Interval training will help improve your race times and make you a better overall runner.
Interval Training is designed to strengthen muscle and increase stamina. It can also do wonders for your overall fitness – although it can be very strenuous on your body. When you started running, you probably went through a period of mixing up running and walking. Interval training is based on the same principle but at an elevated level. Simply put, you run fast for a bit, then you take an ‘interval’ to recover and get your breath back, and then you do it again and again and again.
Is Interval Training for Beginners
It’s wise not to rush into it, especially if you’re a novice. Bones, tendons, muscles and brains need time to adapt to the stresses of regular training. If you’re running less than about 20 miles a week, a gradual and consistent increase in your mileage should be enough to improve your times without speedwork. Don’t push yourself too much. Injury will set you back further than it will help if over done.
A weekly interval session (with a week off every now and then) will do wonders for your race times.
How fast should I run each repeat?
80-85 per cent of your maximum heartrate should be your target spead. Or an eight or nine out of 10 on a scale of how hard you’re pushing yourself. Try and get your final interval at the same pace as your first one. Shooting out of the gate like a crazed dog is counterproductive and could mean you take longer to recover. I can also compromise not just the rest of the session but your next one too. It’ll take practice, but finishing strong will do great for you confidence as well.
And the recoveries?
Resting the appropriate amount of time is crucial to speedwork. Your body is trying to get things under control and recover the muscles from the previous session before you want to break them down again. Mentally your brain needs to keep up with increased speed as well. You should at least feel capable of jogging by the time the recovery ends.
Does the workout vary much?
There are three variables – the length of repeat, the number of repeats and duration of the recovery intervals. So naturally, the sessions are easily changed. Figure out what works best for you and what your end goal is. It’s better to underdo your pace and overdo your recoveries. As you progress, your pace will improve, your recoveries will be more effective and you’ll be able to run for longer.
SIMPLE SAMPLE SESSIONS
These are some popular training sessions:
- 8x400m with 1-min recoveries
- 5x800m with 2-min recoveries
- 3x1 mile with 3-min recoveries
Get creative if you want. Mix things up with a session: 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m, 1200m, 800m, 400m, with varying recoveries. It’s a tough workout, so start with a 1:1 repeat-to-recovery ratio, and gradually cut the recovery time as you improve