Run fast for a short distance, then recover and get your breath back and go again. This is the route to continuous improvement and this is Interval Training.
‘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.
Running 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.
Some examples of interval training follow:
Fartlek running “Speed play” – Go for a steady run, and along the run inject bursts of speed of between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, then drop the pace back down to easy running for around the same duration that you just ran hard for. Continue this pattern for between 10 and 20 minutes.
Repetition running – Run bursts of hard running followed by a static or walk recovery. Many ways to do this which include running around a circuit, running around poles, the run could be converting the same distance on the efforts or the distance may change. The fun way to do this is in a team with others.
Hill running – Running up hills (can be short or long, steep or steady) helps to develop running speed, running technique, strength and of course conditioning for hill running. Typically run hard up the hills and easy down the hills to recover. However it is also beneficial to practice running down hills at speed.
Remember, the recovery is just as important as the effort otherwise you will not be able to run the effort with the form, technique and speed that you desire.
Some example session follow
Interval training with a group
Many of you will know out Tuesday sessions at club are focussed on speed work and a fun way to undertake these sessions is in a group environment. These sessions are as tough as you want them to be and are fully inclusive. They take place on a variety of surfaces, can be flat or hilly and are a variety of distances.
Warm up / warm down – Run a mile easy, stop for a minute and catch your breath.
Perhaps you might have run to the town fields or cantley park or woodlands park or the TPT trail or a pit top or a nice quiet road or an empty car park. Couple of ideas for your main session, concentrate on strong arm drive and the power will come:
12 x 1 minute Hard with 1 minute jog
6 x 2 minutes Hard with 1 minutes jog
4 x 3 minutes Hard with 2 minutes jog
3 x 4 minutes hard with 3 minutes jog
After you have completed the above sessions, repeat but add more reps in subsequent weeks.
Pyramid Session – Run hard for 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes. After each effort jog for half the time of the effort. If you need a little longer then the maximum recovery should not exceed the duration of the hard runs.
How hard you run is up to you, for the Pyramid session I would go at 5k pace. For the shorter reps I would go harder, around the pace you can manage for around 12 minutes flat out. If its windy try to run the efforts with the wind behind you.
Hill training – Doncaster is not flat
Find a hill that takes between 20 seconds and 2 minutes to run up. For the shorter hills you will run harder, for the longer hills you will run around normal long race pace. On the way back down recover, jog or walk so you are ready to run hard up the hill again. At first do the loop for 10 minutes, next time 12 minutes. Build it up to 20 minutes. Make sure you do a good warm up and cool down, so incorporate the hill section of the run mid run.
Most of the pit sites have good hills but you will also find toads like Town Moor Avenue, Zetland Road, Carr Hill are good to use. lots of hills leading up to Bawtry Road in Bessacarr.
12 Minute Fitness Test
Every few weeks it is a good idea to run a solo 12 minute run and get as far as you can, to test where your fitness is. Use a flat route, the same one each time and pick a day when it is not windy. Make sure you do a good warm up and cool down.