For every runner interval training will be a beneficial way to build speed and help you become a better runner. If you don’t already have a coach that sets your interval training workouts then here is a way to keep it very simple and progress as your running improves.
A simple definition of interval training is periods of work followed by periods of rest repeated. In a running sense it means periods of hard running followed by rest.
There are only two parts to an interval session that need to be decided, the length of each interval and the ratio of work to rest. The length of the interval should be decided by the distance of the goal race, for a longer race use a longer interval and vice versa. Alternatively you can change the interval length through a training program and do shorter intervals with more repetitions at times and add variety to your running to keep it fun.
A very simple guide for interval training is to use a ratio of work to rest and as your running progresses change the ratio to include shorter rest periods to make the session more challenging. For instance a 2 min interval with a 1 min rest has a 2:1 work to rest ratio. As I move through a training program I change the ratio as my training progresses. Near the end of a race preparation when I am nearing peak fitness I use a 4:1 ratio such as 8 min interval and 2 min rest.
A simple interval session could be;
10 min warm up
6 x 4 min hard with 2 min rest
10 min cool down
Overall a 56 min session that will help you build your speed. This is using a 2:1 work:rest ratio. As the runner progresses they could continue to use this session but get down to 4 min hard 1 min rest which would be more challenging. Goal of interval training is to be able to run the last effort as quick as the first, when you are able to do this then you should be ready to make the session more challenging.
The speed at which you run your interval will also be determined by the length of the interval and goal race. If you are training for a marathon run longer intervals at 5km pace if you are training for a 5km run shorter intervals at faster then 5km pace is a basic rule of thumb.
Easiest way to build an interval session
- Pick total time for the session
- Factor in warm up and cool down – 10 min each is desirable
- Pick interval time
- Pick interval:rest ratio
- Go run
An interval session should be done once a week to build speed and speed endurance. Intervals teach the body to run faster and also how to run fast when fatigued.
How do you currently do intervals?