Interval Training For Runners: How To + The Benefits

If you desire to augment your running speed, then interval running is the best option. For a considerable length of time, athletes have made use of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to help them fortify their cardiovascular system, power, and speed.

Interval training consists of alternating between periods of intense exercise performed at maximum capacity and brief periods of rest during a single exercise session.

Interval Running Explained

Speedwork is a practice utilized by runners—as well as people from a variety of disciplines and pursuits—to lengthen the stride, raise the leg turnover rate, and optimize the stride, resulting in better general running speed and practice efficiency.

Speedwork for runners generally involves several runs of a mile or less done at a fast or tough pace interspersed with breaks of a low to moderate intensity.

These sprint workouts can be done on a track, treadmill, or road, including a steep hill if desired. Doing a couple of speed workouts every week will boost your running performance, help you get faster at racing times, and give you a better chance of staying ahead of your rivals if that is what you are aiming for.

A few parameters are used to define speed work. This may involve the duration of intervals, the number of repetitions, velocity, training speed, and the frequency of performing them.

Examples of speedwork training that are well-known include interval exercises, running at a solid pace, and combining fast and slow intervals of running.

4 Benefits Of Interval Training

Created in the 1930s by German instructor Waldemar Gerschler with the cooperation of physiotherapist Hans Reindell, it was not until 1952 when Czech sportsperson Emil Zatopek credited the 3 gold medals he won at the Olympics to interval training that people began to realize the positive effects of such a method.

Doing interval training regularly and accurately can make an impressive difference in terms of physical and mental health. If you are unfamiliar with this kind of exercise regimen, you must start small and work your way to more intense workouts because the strain on your body can be excessive.

#1: Increase in aerobic capacity

Interval training can lead to an enhanced ability to take in and use oxygen during physical activity.

The phrase that is most commonly used in the field of sports science when referring to the aerobic endurance of an athlete is their VO2 max. This is the maximum intake of oxygen during exercise that increases in intensity, representing how well a person utilizes oxygen during physical activity.

When combined with regular, sustained jogging, interval training can significantly improve your overall cardiovascular health.

The efficiency and strength of your heart will increase, resulting in higher maximum volumes of blood pumped and increased circulation. By utilizing interval training, the quantity of blood your heart can push with each beat can be heightened.

Studies have suggested that interval training can reduce a person’s risk of having issues such as heart disease and hypertension.

#2: Increase in anaerobic capacity

We have come to the conclusion that the amount of oxygen the body is capable of providing the muscles with plays a huge role in how well they can perform.

The power of an athlete to grow is frequently hindered by a lack of anaerobic capability.

By working out at faster speeds than the ones you usually use for aerobic exercise, you can boost your body’s resilience against lactic acid and manage its effects better.

To accomplish this task methodically and attentively, it is essential to recognize your speeds.

#3: Add variety to your training plan

If you solely do steady and persistent running as part of your exercise program, you may find it has become somewhat tedious.

Incorporating a few sessions of interval running into your weekly agenda should give you a burst of enthusiasm, enhancing your motivation and making your performance better.

Studies reveal that participating in brief spurts of hard exercise and movement produces an increased level of “feel-good” endorphins such as serotonin and dopamine. This implies that doing interval workouts can add pleasure to your exercise routine.

Begin by substituting one of your typical constant courses with a high-intensity interval workout and let your body slowly adjust to the new demands that are placed upon it.

#4: Efficient for those time-poor runners

Research suggests that training with periods of intense running instead of continuous moderate runs leads to more progress in the same amount of time.

Interval training is an ideal choice for those who struggle to incorporate training into their hectic daily schedules because of other obligations.

It is vital to not put too much strain on your body by making all of your training run into intense interval exercises that take a short amount of time. They are there to supplement your steady aerobic running, which should always constitute the majority of your weekly workouts.

How To Incorporate Interval Training Into Your Runs

People who are inexperienced with interval running frequently start too quick in their first go, leading to burnout before the session is done.

Incorporating intervals gradually into your workout plan is essential. I’d suggest that you substitute one of your habitual runs with an interval training session and slowly increase it from there.

It is important to recall that when you run at a fast pace and with more vigour, your body will be put under more stress. To minimize the overall burden or stress on the body, you should always consider the following points:

  • By adjusting the duration of the interval, intensity, and recovery periods
  • By wisely selecting the total number of intervals

2 Interval Running Workouts For Speed

Without any more time to spare, here are the Interval training running exercises you require to quicken your pace and upgrade your general running capacity.

Interval Training Running Workout  – The Basic Interval Run

If you have not done interval training yet, this is a good place to start. The fundamental exercise routine is perfect for those just starting out, as it gets them accustomed to the routine without the elevated danger of getting hurt or experiencing exhaustion.

Interval-style runs are the most fundamental type of speed training. Essentially, these workouts involve switching between faster and slower speeds for particular distances, usually done on a running track belonging to a high school or a stadium.

A typical interval workout features two main parts. Initially, there is a speedy sequence dubbed the repeat. The same course is repeated for a set distance, running at a predetermined speed objective.

The usual interval training comprises of brief sessions that last anywhere from 100 to 400 meters, or longer distances ranging from 800 to 2000 meters. Next, there is a quick burst of effort followed by a short period of rest.

This can be either 30 to 60 seconds in duration or else a period/distance equal to the repetition. For instance, an example of an interval workout could be 5 sets of 800m reps with a 400m break in between each repetition.

The Benefits

Studies demonstrate that changing back and forth between intense periods and recovery enhances a person’s VO2 max, making their body able to use oxygen better, thereby raising their physical fitness levels and boosting their competitive capability.

It has been discovered that your body could keep burning calories at a higher rate even after your quick exercise session is over. This phenomenon is referred to as Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).

Warming up Right

The initial exercises prepare you for your coming sprint performance. A proper pre-exercise routine raises your body heat, improves circulation to the muscle groups, and mentally prepares you for swift running.

So, make sure to get it right. Otherwise, you’ll be risking injury, premature fatigue, and even burnout. And you don’t want that.

Here is how to warm up right:

Begin by taking a stroll, then move into a slow jog for a duration of five to ten minutes. Do a series of lively mobility and stretching exercises. Such exercises involve tugging with four limbs, walking backwards with heels, kicking the behind, resembling a scorpion, crawling like an inchworm, lunging forward, and running with knees at a high level. The more, the merrier.

You can also perform some of these speed drills. Then, complete four to six strides. These are short bursts of velocity, normally taking place over 20 to 30 seconds of running as quickly as possible. Striders tend to cover a distance of around 160 to 220 yards on average.

Recover fully between each set. Then perform these strides on a flat, smooth surface.

Getting started

If you are a beginner, you can start your journey into interval running with a collection of 6-8 200m runs at a pace similar to that for a 5K race or perhaps a little faster, with an easy 200m jogging in between each one for rest.

Sample Workout

Here is how to proceed with your next (or first) interval run session:

  • Start with a decent 15-minute dynamic warm-up.
  • Run at interval pace—roughly 85 to 95 per cent of max speed—for one minute.
  • Jog for a 2-minute recovery break.
  • Repeat the on-and-off pattern four to six times.
  • Jog for five minutes to cool down, then stretch.

That’s it. It does not get much simpler than this. Make an appearance and perform the task at hand.

The Pace

Interval training exercises involve pushing your heart rate to between 85 and 98 per cent of its maximum, with the amount depending on the length of the exercise and the fitness level and desired outcome of the person performing the workout.

For example, short periods should be run at a slightly higher speed than the 5K race speed, with the longer recovery times typically lasting twice or three times as much as the time of the repetition.

Intervals that last for a longer period tend to be done at the pace of a 5K race, followed by a recovery period that is either equal to the fast surge time or a bit shorter.

In the end, if you can manage to run faster than the tempo you are aiming for in the race, then you are progressing correctly.

Interval Training Running Workout  – The 100m Dashes

If you wish to have the same performance level as an elite sprinter, then running on the track should be your go-to. But be careful. Do not do this until you have included interval workouts and fartleks in your regular training program.

Before you start running hard, take a 10-minute jog to loosen up your muscles, then do six to eight shorter runs to get your body ready for some serious exercise.

Next, perform eight to ten 100m fast bursts. Your initial lap should involve sprinting 40 meters as quickly as possible. For recuperation, take a stroll or run for half the time of the quicker interval before continuing on the following one.

Strive for 95 to 99 per cent of the maximum single effort. So, let’s say it takes you 18 seconds to run a 100-meter race at your maximum effort, that would be the slowest you can go while still finishing in 20 seconds.

As you become accustomed to competing on the track, up your number of repetitions and extend them to 200 meters, running almost the whole time as quickly as possible.

Tempo Runs

Exercises done at a steady speed over a set period or length are referred to as “threshold pace running”.

Traditional speed runs occur at the point of intensity that is quite hard but comfortable enough to sustain that pace for a long duration. The point of this is to train your body to stay at that intensity.

The Benefits

Performing a tempo workout correctly can yield remarkable advantages. As per Dutch research published in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, tempo runs are capable of increasing your total running proficiency by a maximum of 10 per cent.

That can make a difference in tight competition. So, why it’s the case?

It is said that practising tempo will raise anaerobic boundary limits, the point where the body moves from the oxygen-based system over to its anaerobic system.

At this stage, your body produces lactic acid faster than it can be eliminated.

It is commonly thought that lactic acid is a major factor for the discomfort and post-exercise soreness you go through when you partake in vigorous activities.

Thus, the higher your tolerance for a certain speed, the more extended time you can keep it up.

The Distance

The amount of time you spend doing tempo runs varies based on your ability level and what kind of race you are training for, but most experts suggest that as a general rule of thumb, you should begin with 15 to 20 minutes of tempo running.

Once you’ve gained enough stamina and strength, it is permissible to prolong the tempo segment of your jogs. But do it slowly and gradually.


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