How to Improve Your Fitness with Interval Training
While I would consider myself to be first and foremost a climber, not a runner, I do enjoy that predictable rhythm that comes from pounding the pavement on a crisp, sunny day. However, I do occasionally find myself in the doldrums of monotony somewhere around Mile 2. What helps me through these trips down Boredom Lane? Interval training.
Interval Training: Alternating short, high intensity bursts of effort with slower, active recovery phases in a single workout.
Not only does it give you something to “do” while running to pass the time, interval training can help you get more value out of your workouts. Adding interval workouts to your running regimen is easy. There are 4 variables to consider – intensity and duration of the working interval, duration of the recovery interval, and repetitions for each interval. Here’s a few practical options that can be adapted for runners of varying abilities…
RUN/WALK: For new runners, this is a great way to build up enough endurance for a solid foundation to work with. You will log a lot more quantity as well as quality “running minutes” training this way than you would by simply running as far as you can go until you’re exhausted. Gradually increase your run time and decrease your walk time until you are able to run for the entire duration of your workout.
TIMED SPRINTS: Once you can run for 30 minutes or more without stopping, it’s time to add in some sprints. For example, 30 seconds of sprinting out of every 90 seconds. Track progress by measuring the number of minutes spent at maximum effort – so if you were able to keep up with the pace in the example for 30 minutes, you’d have done a whopping 10 minutes at full speed by the time you were done!
DISTANCE SPRINTS: This time you’re running for a pre-determined distance instead of length of time. Aim for a certain percentage of your total distance to be at maximal effort. For example, give yourself one mile in which to sprint 3 tenths – some intervals could be one tenth long, and some could be less, but at the end of a 5 mile run, 1.5 of those would have been run at full speed.
LANDMARK SPRINTS: This one is for the right-brained folk among you that don’t want to be slave to a stopwatch. It works out best in a neighborhood with semi-regular landmarks such as mailboxes, telephone poles, or even road signs. Simply choose a landmark and alternate between sprinting and running at sub-max. For example, sprint past 5 mailboxes, then jog past 3, etc. The best way to track progress is by looking at your finishing time – you should eventually be covering the same distance in less time as you improve.
I guarantee you will see fitness gains in just a few weeks if you start substituting one of your regular runs per week with an interval workout!
Read more from Erica Lineberry on her blog, Cragmama.
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