Full Speed Ahead
No matter your experience or running goals, interval workouts should be part of your routine
Pick up the pace for any goal
RUN FAST for a short distance, slow down for a bit to recover. Do it all again. Interval training boils down to this simple formula – and offers runners a route to continuous improvement.
‘Interval training is going to increase your level of fitness faster than pretty much any other type of running,’ says running coach Jeff Gaudette. Giving yourself a breather between segments of fast running allows you to handle more of it, delivering a greater stimulus to your heart, lungs and muscles.
And despite fast running’s reputation for causing injuries, half marathoners who incorporated intervals into their training were less likely to get hurt than those who didn’t, according to a recent study. Though this may have something to do with mileage and experience level – advanced runners tend to both do more intervals and have a lower injury risk – there’s also evidence that running form may improve at quicker paces, says Gaudette. Provided that you begin with a fitness base and allow ample time between hard workouts for recovery, ‘short, hard bursts can teach your body a more efficient way to run, which ideally transitions into the rest of your training’, says Gaudette.
Tweak the reps and rest and you can create an infinite number of workouts, each with its own benefits. Whether you’re targeting a half or full marathon, your first (or fastest) 5K, or just the ability to run stronger or longer this autumn, here are the interval sessions that can get you there.