How to Get Faster with Interval Training

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Whether you want to shave minutes off your race time or simply add some variety to your running routine, speed workouts can fill the bill. With the right speed workout program, you can run faster and stronger, feeling better than ever during your races and runs.

What is an Interval?

Intervals  are a popular form of speed training that you can adjust to suit your fitness level and training goals. An interval workout involves doing repeats of high-intensity running alternating with periods of active recovery, such as slow jogging or walking. Interval distances commonly range from 100 meters to one-mile repeats.

How Far

Choose an interval distance that suits your training goals. In general, the further the race or event you are training for, the longer your intervals should be. If you are training for a marathon, for instance, try doing one-mile repeats. If you’re a sprinter, on the other hand, go for shorter intervals of 100 or 200 meters. Middle distance track runners can do intervals ranging from 200 or 400 meters to 800 meters or one-mile repeats.

A track offers an ideal place to do intervals.

How Fast

The object of interval training is to train your body to run fast and to perform at a high intensity even while fatigued. Pace your intervals so that you run about the same time for each one. Beginners often make the mistake of going out too fast and doing an all-out sprint for the first interval and slowing down to a jog by the last interval, which will not help your race performance. Calculate your interval pace using a mileage chart or use your heart rate or perceived exertion rate to gauge when you are exerting 80 to 85 percent effort.

How Many

The number of intervals you do should depend on your fitness level and training goals. Most runners do between four and 10 repeats. If in doubt, start slow and do a low number of repeats. You can add more repeats to your program once your body adjusts to interval training, usually within a few weeks.

Recovery

Jog for at least 10 minutes to warm up before your intervals, and do the same to cool down after your workout. Between intervals, jog or walk to recover. Your recovery time should be twice as long as your interval time. So if you run 400-meter repeats in 90 seconds each, recover by doing 3-minute jogs between intervals.

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