Saturday, March 12, 2011

Interval Training

Ah what a glorious morning.  I got up at my said start time of 6:45 a.m., so I had enough time to fuel before my 8 mile run this morning.  I was out of oatmeal and I don't recommend a big heavy omelet prior to the start of your long run, so instead I ate a banana, a handful of almonds, and two pieces of Trader Joe's multigrain bread, toasted, and topped with a little bit of Balade butter and organic (real) strawberry cream cheese.   Perfect breakfast!  You have carbs, protein, fruit, potassium, fat, and taste! (image courtesy of

I headed to the Running Emporium at 7:50 and met up with my running team.  Sadly, I wasn't really on top of my garmin timing, so I actually have no idea how long it took me to run but I do know that most of splits averaged anywhere from 7:50 to 8:20.  I think my average pace was around an 8:10 or so, but to be honest I'm not really sure.  At one point I didn't stop the clock on my garmin because I wanted to keep track of total race time, and threw it on the ground for a minute while I took off my under armor.

Regardless, my coaches talked to me several times along the route and mentioned that they were impressed with my time, my form, and how fast my recovery is!  How exciting!  After talking to Becca, my head coach, about her job training athletes for racing, she invited me to come to one of their training practices in Belmont!  It looks like I'll be heading there on the 29th!  She promised me that the more I participated in interval training, and if I start to train with them on Tuesdays, I'll see around a 15 minute improvement in my goal time!  In the meantime, here is information from my coach, Becca, about what interval training is, and how to incorporate it into your training schedule!

Interval Training is a series of repetitions with a recovery period following each repetition. It is used as a means to get faster, and build speed and endurance. Our saturday long runs do not develop the explosive energy necessary to improve our speed.

During your interval runs, lactic acid is produced and a state of oxygen debt is reached. Pushing your body past your comfort zone increases your aerobic capacity, trains your muscles to operate at a higher and faster level, and makes you more tolerant of lactic acid build up.

There are mainly two types of interval workouts: LOW INTENSITY and high Intensity. Being marathoners and half marathoners, we will be running low intensity intervals, which will prepare us for our particular race. Low intensity workouts (such as mile repeats) are less demanding on the body.

A few examples of interval training:

MILE REPEATS- starting with four one mile repeats, and building up until about six one mile repeats. You will warm up at a comfortable pace, run each repeat, then cool down afterwards. It is always best to jog in between your intervals.

LADDER WORKOUTS- are another example of interval training. A ladder workout is where you would run something like 800 meters, 1600 meters, 2400 meters- (then back down) 1600 meters, 800 meters. Again, jogging a slow 400 meters in between.

800 METER REPEATS- The goal here is to run your 800 meter repeats using the same number as your marathon time. In other words, if you run a 3:40 marathon time, keep your 800's at a 3 minute 40 second pace. If you run a 4:30 marthon, keep your 800 meter repeats at a 4 minute 30 second race. This workout helps you get into your comfortable marathon zone time.

Another example in which you will see a lot in the  schedule are repeats on the road, where you will run something like 8 by 1:00 minute hard, 2:00 minutes slow, or 5 by 3:00 minutes hard, 3:00 minutes slow.

So the idea here for improving speed, is that if you average a 9 minute per mile pace, and run your intervals at an 8 minute per mile pace, you will be able to increase your steady comfortable pace to under 9 minutes per mile.

Try to run these intervals on a flat surface such as a track or good quality field. Get off the roads, so there is less of unnecessary pounding on your legs. Tuesday nights are a standard workout nights and it is important to establish interval training as a weekly workout.  Try to get in 4-7 miles of fast paced running, ranging from 800 meters to 3000 meters, (which is a half mile to approximately 2 miles) worth of speed.

Running your intervals while tired will help you practice for your fall marathon, or half, especially towards the last few miles of your marathon. It will give you added confidence and improve your concentration.

Interval training should be gradual. Training should take place over several months. Set a goal time you are aiming to run each interval and try to run at a consistent speed throughout the entire workout.

A common training flaw is that runners do their interval training too fast, and do not fully recover for their other workouts during the week. If you find yourself breathing too hard, and your heart rate rises about 120 beats per minute, then you are running the intervals too hard. You are not racing these intervals. Something out of your comfort zone, maybe something close to your current 10k race pace.

The key factor is to build speed, without burning out. Try to find a partner to run these with, who is compatible with your speed. Keep your efforts at an even pace, and stay consistent!!

Lastly... Recovery runs are exactly what they sound like. No more than six miles in duration, as these runs are to be taken very easy! 

We are very busy people and things come up. If you miss an interval workout, do NOT use your recovery run days to make up for your missed training runs. Do not do repetitions more than once per week. Make your recovery runs the day after an interval workout, or a fast paced run.

ALWAYS remember to warm up, cool down and stretch! Drink plenty of water before, during and after your interval training. 

Awesome!  I've been using Becca's training schedule and staying on target to the best of my ability.  Because of this, I've really seen an improvement in my speed and endurance.  However, I have yet to see what longer than 13.1 mile feels like and if I've really put in the practice I think I have.  Soon enough my friends, soon enough.

1 comment:

  1. Intervals. Wow. Get'n serious! Be careful, that is where most people blow a gasket.



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