Interval Training Runners Need To Know About Mastering Intervals


Here’s how to integrate this fast-paced, never-boring cardio method into your regular routine.

For the past year-and-a-half, off-and-on gym closures (and a general fear of COVID-19) pushed the vast majority of exercisers out of the gym and either a) into our living rooms or b) onto the hiking and walking trails.

And while many of us relished in reliving our high school track and cross-country days, other exercisers were less-than-enthused lacing up a pair of running shoes. In fact, I’m convinced that you enter a completely different dimension when running outdoors—one where a single minute seems to double in time.

What Exactly Is Interval Running?

While interval training can be divided into a number of types and techniques (like fartlek training, for example, which involves using random objects to specify intervals), all of those variations come down to one premise: varied periods of rest mixed with all-out pushes. In other words, the exact opposite of steady-state exercise.

“Interval runs are typically [bursts of] one to five minutes of running, in which you get as close to your VO2 max, or your maximum rate of oxygen consumption, as you can get,” 

Women’s Health has previously reported that a person’s VO2 max is one of the best assessments of their cardiorespiratory fitness, and is a reflection of how fast your body can regenerate cells. “Interval runs build aerobic power.”

Two of the most common intervals: ladder and pyramid runs. Here’s a sample breakdown of each:

Ladder: 1 minute at a 8 or 9 RPE; 2 minutes of active jogging to rest; 2 minutes at a 8 or 9 RPE; 2 minutes of active jogging; 3 minutes at a 8 or 9 RPE; 2 minutes of active jogging; 4 minutes at a 8 or 9 RPE; 2 minutes of active jogging.

Pyramid: 1 minute at a 8 or 9 RPE; 2 minutes active jogging to rest, 2 minutes at a 8 or 9 RPE, 2 minutes active jogging, 3 minutes at a 8 or 9 RPE, 2 minutes active jogging, 2 minutes at a 8 or 9 RPE, 2 minutes active jogging, 1 minute at a 8 or 9 RPE, 2 minutes active jogging.

Runners can prioritize RPEs between 4 and 5 instead of 8 or 9 during the pushes and eventually (as you feel comfortable), you can increase your intensity during pushes.

The 6-Week Beginner Interval Running Plan

Ready to get started? Here, spotlights one of the signature routines perfect for those just getting started with interval training. “It’s also versatile for anyone who hasn’t run in a while, or is looking to increase their running and wants to reduce their chances of injury,

This plan intentionally features a lot of walk-running, which act as mini-intervals, “It can be difficult for novice runners to string together minutes of running, and it’s not uncommon to become discouraged.”

The 6-Week Beginner Interval Running Plan

So why three days per week?

Three days [of interval running per] week is optimal for new runners or those looking to get into running, as it allows you to follow every day of running with a rest day,. “The newer you are to running, the more fatigue your body will experience. As you start to train and run more frequently, you will build your endurance and you’ll find you need less rest days to recover. ” But if you can only squeeze out one day of interval running per week, you’ll still reap benefits,. “That one session of running has its own health benefits,.

What About rest days?

In the program above, rest or cross train days are ideal when jumping into an interval training program. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be holed up on the couch on those days. your level of exertion will depend on how hard you pushed yourself the day prior. “If you had a really hard run, take it easy,” if you’re absolutely itching to move, an easy walk, relaxed yoga routine, or bike ride is fine.

Safety Considerations

They key to success, is to slowly increase the challenge level of runs and to not feel completely wiped after each workout. “Make sure you feel comfortable and in control,”.

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