Run extremely quickly for a short distance and then slow down for a little bit in order to recover. Do it all again. Interval running boils down to this simple formula – and offers runners a route towards continuous improvement.
Interval running is going to increase your level of fitness much faster than pretty much any other type of running. Giving yourself a breather between segments of fast running gives you the opportunity to handle more of it, delivering a greater stimulus to your heart, lungs and muscles.
Making the assumption that you are in great physical condition and have built up a reasonable aerobic base (in other words, you’re comfortable at sustained running for a period of 30 minutes or more on a regular basis), interval running can be your best choice for improving fitness, establishing running economy as well as getting faster.
It is not necessary for you to be a competitive athlete in order to make effective usage of intervals in your training. With interval training you can improve your running ability whether you run a 10-minute mile or a 20-minute 5K.
How It Works
An interval running plan fluctuates between periods of intense, fast paces that are followed by less-intense recovery periods. During this type of running you push yourself close to your peak heart rate during a brief sprint. After this, you then allow it to go back down as you ease back to an easy jog.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is an enormously popular fitness trend that is promoted by personal trainers and fitness bloggers galore. However, few people actually understand the mechanics behind this form of exercise and why it’s so effective.
Why All Runners Should Do Interval Running
What’s the point of changing up your pace throughout a run? Interval running workouts that consist of short bursts of intense exercise that are followed by lower-intensity recovery periods give you similar benefits as HIIT workouts.
You will burn more calories faster, you challenge your strength and endurance, and it also helps to prepare you for an actual race where you probably won’t maintain the exact same pace for the whole time.
Interval running has the result of improving your performance more than training at moderate intensities. Runners who are newbies to interval training will see:
- Significant and rapid improvements in VO2 max, which is a marker of cardiovascular health (or how efficiently your body makes use of oxygen);
- Increased muscle size, strength and power;
- Increased overall endurance; and
- Probably improved energy throughout the day.
As you’re switching things up, you’re a lot less likely to get bored.
Things To Watch Out For
You could very well fall in love with the sensational feeling of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and of putting in your maximum effort. However, don’t overdo it. You should be enjoying the benefits of interval running in moderation, on average three times per week. Warm-ups and cool downs are always necessary. Stretching is something you definitely can’t skimp out on..
As with any manner of run, the right equipment is required. Wear men’s cross training shoes or proper ladies sneakers that will provide your feet with the cushioned support they’ll need during your interval runs. And don’t forget to stay hydrated!
If you want to coach athletes in sports such as running then you need to do our Advanced Sports Conditioning Coach Course. Read more about it here.