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springRecently, I started adding in interval training to some of my runs. I had been mentally dragging in my runs and my pace has vanished since January, so I needed something to shake up my runs. On a chat board I post on, someone posted about interval training for pace and races and I tried it out.

Last week a particular run was mentally awful and I wanted done. So, to get done faster, I thought about the post I read and added in some intervals. And surprisingly to me, it was hard work but made my run fantastic. The recovery periods helped me catch my breath so I could push on the intense/fast intervals and the miles flew by.

But what is interval training anyway? From Runner’s World, Interval training, also known as interval workouts or interval runs, are short, intense efforts followed by equal or slightly longer recovery time. For example, after a warm-up, run two minutes at a hard effort, followed by two to three minutes of easy jogging or walking to catch your breath. Unlike tempo workouts, you’re running above your red line and at an effort where you are reaching hard for air and counting the seconds until you can stop—a controlled fast effort followed by a truly easy jog. The secret is in the recovery as patience and discipline while you’re running easy allows you to run the next interval strong and finish the entire workout fatigued but not completely spent. Just like rest, your body adapts and gets stronger in the recovery mode.

But are there benefits to interval training really? Yes! The benefits include, improved running form and economy, endurance, mind-body coordination, motivation, and fat-burning. For me, not only did I find my pace and running legs again, but mentally it recharged me. Sure, not all my runs are great or fast, but after doing a couple of these recently, I felt much better about upcoming races. Many runners use interval training in races as well. REcovery would be a slow jog and they find they do much better than straight running no bursts or recovery.

For me, I will try to add in one to two interval sessions a week. I don’t want to overdue it and end up with overtraining syndrome, but pushing myself even in this heat will help me in the long run.

So, how do I do my intervals? I tried out the 5-7 mins hard run with 1-2 mins slow jog recovery. I am able to keep that for my full run. I warm up for 1-3 miles, work intervals until my last 1-2 miles for a proper cooldown. I’ve done this for a 8, 10 and a 12 miler and all went well. I was exhausted by the end, used the next day as a recovery slow run and then another fun easy run the other day(s). Overall, intervals are tough but really help you gain that edge at races and within your own body and mind!

Other interval workouts:
For racing
Additional Resources

How do you push yourself to do better when you are dragging?