Interval Your Way Faster

Interval training is a great way to improve your running. I’ve noticed that my running has slowed since I’ve taken it out of my regular routine. Intervals sound advanced, but essentially you’re running a shorter distance at a faster pace. No matter your level of running, intervals can be very helpful in improving your speed and helping with endurance.

To get started, first, according to Davina Lewis from examiner.com, “Never underestimate the necessity of warm up and cool down segments, especially in interval training. Begin every session by warming up your muscles with 5-10 minutes of jogging. Cooling down after your workout is equally important, as it enables the body to remove lactic acid from the muscles, thereby reducing post-exercise soreness. Cool down by jogging or walking briskly for 5-10 minutes.” Lewis explains several types of intervals:

  1. Standard Intervals: Running for a set distance followed by a set distance recovery jog. You repeat this fast run/slow jog recovery combination. As you improve, you can increase the number of sets performed.
  2. Pyramid intervals (a.k.a. ladders): A pyramid session is a variation of the standard interval session. You run in ascending or descending length intervals e.g., 800m, 600m, 400m and 200m. This would count as one set. You can build up the number of your sets as your fitness improves.
  3. Fartlek (meaning speed play): An unstructured session which involves varying your intervals. As the name suggests, you can also have fun and add in different types of terrain (off road, on sand, etc.) or even add-in power moves as your intervals (such as striding, hopping, bounding or running in varying directions).
  4. Hill Intervals: A hill interval involves running a hill gradient for a set period of time and then jogging back down as a recovery. Hill intervals provide a great cardio workout excellent along with strength training for the legs. Repeat for the desired number of times.

All of these types of intervals are a great way to start. Convinced? Here are Lewis’ recommendations for getting started at any level.

Interval Workouts to Try
Starter:

  • 400m warm up jog and stretch
  • Start set one with 2x200m sprints and 2x400m sprints with full recovery inbetween intervals
  • Repeat sets twice 5 minutes recovery time in between each set

Intermediate:

  • 400m warm up jog and stretch
  • Run four quick 50m sprints
  • Then start your sets of 3x400m and 800m intervals with 2 minutes recovery time
  • Repeat sets twice with 3 minutes recovery time

Advanced:

  • 600m warm up jog and stretch
  • Run four quick 50m sprints
  • Start your set of 4x400m and 1200m intervals with 3 minute recovery periods
  • For the second set take 4-minute recovery times.
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