What Is Interval Running and Why Should You Do It?
Interval running is running at a higher level of intensity. It is also sometimes referred to as track work or speed work. Most experienced runners incorporate interval paces in their running programs to improve their performance. But what does interval running really do? Does it help increase your running speed?
How Fast is Interval Running?
Interval running is running at an intense speed without going all-out. It is still a controlled speed, but at a faster pace. Interval running is still running at a controlled speed because you want to run the same fast speed for several minutes. And you would want to be able to do a few repeats of the interval. So keep that in mind when trying to establish the right speed for you.
Why Do Interval Running?
Most long distance runners usually do a lot of easy runs and a weekly long run. This helps in building the foundation of your running. This kind of running program helps you build your stamina. It is because it builds up your cardiovascular system. And not only that, it will also strengthen your legs and lets you efficiently burn energy.
On the other hand, interval running serves a different purpose. It stimulates oxygen delivery to the muscles. When you run too fast, you body cannot supply sufficient oxygen to your muscles. And your muscles need oxygen to perform. Interval running trains your body to become better in getting oxygen delivered to your muscles. When your body is able to provide your muscles with sufficient oxygen, the better your running becomes. Thus, it will help you become a faster runner!
What to Consider When Doing Intervals
Intervals are considered an intense workout. Although your body may be able to handle two intense training days, this can cause injuries and overtraining. Therefore, you need to have an easy day after your interval workout day. Most experienced runners do some easy running the next day. You can also do cross-training, or you can also have a complete rest.
The next thing to consider is proper timing. You can't just jump into it. Well you can, but it is less enjoyable. Consider starting off with just 1 minute of interval pace, followed by 3 minutes of easy running. Repeat this a number of times. Then, next week, when it is time for your next interval session, you can may be do 2 minutes of interval pace, followed by 3 minutes of easy running. Continue this routine until you reach about 5 minutes of interval pace with 2 to 3 minutes of easy running.
Experts say that the maximum length of intervals should be about 5 minutes.
You can do 10-minute intervals? Then you are not doing them fast enough. What you are actually doing is tempo running.
So work your body at the right level for the right time. Going for more than 5 minutes will compromise your speed, which only defeats the purpose of interval running.
Do your intervals once a week in the two months before your big race and you will reap the benefits on race-day!