10 – 20 minutes
1 – 3 km
Intervals are also known as speed work. The distance of this exercise ranges from 200m to 2000m. After determining your distance, chose a pace that is appropriate for the given session. In my experience, I pace myself to complete the required distance as fast as possible, while maintaining even effort throughout.
For example, I can run 200m in about 25 seconds, and that’s pushing as hard as I can. I wouldn’t use the same speed if I were to run 400m, but I would use the same effort.
In interval sessions, you will do multiple repeats of the same distance. Examples of a workout may include a short warm-up jog of about 400 meters, followed by 8x200m runs, with walking or jogging rest in between. This could be followed by another 400 meters jog to cool down.
Note: I’d recommend incorporating interval training once you are comfortable handling at least 20 minutes of moderate effort running. Intervals can be hard on your body if you dive in too early, increasing the risk of injury.
Always incorporate warm-ups and cool downs to the beginning and end of your workouts. If you try intervals with cold muscles you may be at greater risk of injuring them; I speak from experience – unfortunate experience.
Once you’re able to run consistently for at least 20 minutes, find a track and set your starting mark. Determine the distance you would like to complete, and break this up into the achievable intervals. Begin with one lap, which provides a 400 meter warm-up. When you’re warmed-up and ready, take off at a pace that allows maximum effort until reaching your interval end point. Walk around the track a full lap, then start again. Repeat this as many times needed to complete your total distance. Intervals can be varied by adding more repetitions of shorter distances or less repetition over longer distances. Finish things off with a one lap cool down, or more if needed.
Benefits of this Run
Boost Oxygen Utilization: Intervals are immensely beneficial for raising your VO2 Max, which means it improves how much oxygen you can use to generate running energy. More efficient oxygen utilization = being able to run faster and longer.
Afterburn Effect: When you train with high intensity, your body will continue to burn calories up to 24 hours after you’ve finished an interval workout. This is perfect for runners who want to lose weight, or boost their metabolism.
Increase Endurance: When you incorporate interval running into your training regimen, you will be able to run longer as your body will have adapted to tire less quickly.
Increase Speed: Interval training will allow you to run faster without needing to increase your effort.
Improve Running Form: When running all out, your body compromises form. Running biomechanics like how you step and move change to get through high stress intervals as fast and efficiently as possible. When you bring interval runs into your training plan, their benefits will eventually trickle down to improve running form at slower paces. Your body will become more conditioned to maintaining running form under stress.