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Interval Training

What is Interval Training?

Interval training is defined as a series of repetitions of work with a recovery period following each repetition

Interval training is the keys to running faster. Running long distances alone does not develop the explosive energy systems or the neuromuscular coordination necessary to consistently improve your speed.

During the running period of the interval, lactic acid is produced and a state of oxygen debt is reached. During the recovery period of the interval, the heart and lungs are still stimulated but they re-supplying body with oxygen to help break down the lactic acid.

There are many different types of interval training. The type of interval training that is best for you depends on the distance of the race you are running.

Types of Intervals

There are two main types of interval training: low intensity and high intensity.

Low intensity intervals are used to help prepare runners for long races such as the marathon or half marathon. These intervals consist of 1-mile or 2-mile repeats. Low intensity intervals are less demanding on the body. The body usually needs about 1 to 2 minutes to recover between intervals.

High intensity intervals are used to help prepare runners for shorter, faster races such as a mile run or a 5K run. These intervals consist of 400 to 800 meter repeats. High intensity intervals are much harder on the body. More time is needed for the body to recover between repetitions. Very fast sprint intervals need up to 5 minutes of rest between sprints.

How to create your own Interval

Part of your success will depend on the type of interval you design for yourself. The steps below will help you design an interval training guide that is most beneficial to you.

  1. Choose which distance your intervals should be
    • The distance of your race will dictate the length of your intervals.
    • Intervals of 400 to 800 meters are best for mile races and 5K races.
    • Intervals of 1 to 2 miles are best for full and half marathons.
  2. Interval recovery time
    • The recovery time between each hard interval should be either until your breathing returns to normal or until your heart rate drops below 120 beats per minute.
    • During the recovery period, it is best to jog.
  3. Number of Repetitions
    • The number of repetitions depends on how fast you run and the distance of your race. The faster you run, the fewer repetitions you will do. The shorter the race, the shorter the intervals will be.
    • 2 to 3 miles of speed followed by a rest is good when training for a 5K.
    • 3 to 4 miles of speed followed by a rest is good when training for a for a 10K.
    • 4 to 6 miles of speed followed by a rest is good when training for a half or full marathon.
  4. Time
    • Interval training should be gradual. Training should take place over several weeks or months.
    • Set a time that you are aiming to run each interval.
    • It is important to run at a consistent speed.

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