These tar­geted in­ter­val ses­sions will build race-spe­cific fit­ness, speed and con­fi­dence

Runner's World (UK) - - TRAINING -

THERE’S NOTH­ING like racing a fast 5K or 10K – they’re re­ward­ing dis­tances to race and they give you a great run­ner’s high. But to race fast, you’ve got to run fast in train­ing, so run­ners seek­ing to max­imise their 5K or 10K po­ten­tial need to do some in­ter­val train­ing.

Run­ning at or faster than your goal race pace will make it feel eas­ier over time and break­ing it down into shorter chunks makes it feel more man­age­able. The ses­sions col­lected here are de­signed to help you im­prove spe­cific as­pects of 5K and 10K fit­ness – im­prov­ing speed and turnover, hon­ing pace sense and discipline, boost­ing men­tal tough­ness and con­fi­dence, and help­ing you to de­velop a fin­ish­ing kick.

Even those who are not pre­par­ing for a race can ben­e­fit from these work­outs. As well as in­creas­ing anaer­o­bic-thresh­old lev­els, in­ter­val train­ing in­creases en­durance and builds mus­cle strength. Typ­i­cal steady-state dis­tance run­ning ex­er­cises the leg mus­cles in a cer­tain range of mo­tion, with the fo­cus on slow-twitch fi­bres. By run­ning at faster speeds, you ex­er­cise all your leg mus­cles and im­prove your flex­i­bil­ity dur­ing run­ning.

After one or two months of steady dis­tance run­ning, do in­ter­val train­ing once a week to reach op­ti­mal racing fit­ness, in ad­di­tion to a weekly tempo and long run. Book­end these work­outs with easy runs or cross-train­ing on the days ei­ther side to help re­cov­ery and avoid over­tax­ing your body.

A run­ning track is an ideal place to do them, as the sur­face is good and mea­sur­ing the reps is easy. But if you don’t have one near you, any stretch of flat, traf­fic-free ground (mea­sured us­ing your GPS de­vice or on­line map­ping) will work just fine.

HARD AND FAST These ses­sions will test you but you’ll reap the re­wards on race day.

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