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Onetrack Paper

Ten Interval Workouts for Runners

Updated: May 23

Interval workout for runners on the track

Interval workouts are a staple in the training regimen of runners, from beginners to elite athletes. These workouts involve alternating periods of high-intensity running with periods of rest or lower-intensity running. They are designed to improve speed, endurance, and overall running performance. This article will delve into the importance of interval workouts, how to effectively incorporate them into your training, and provide ten example workouts to get you started.

Why Interval Workouts are Important

  1. Improved Speed and Performance: Interval training pushes your body to run at higher intensities, which enhances your speed and running economy. Over time, this can lead to faster race times.

  2. Enhanced Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity: By varying the intensity, interval workouts train both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. This dual development increases your overall stamina and the ability to sustain higher speeds.

  3. Increased Lactate Threshold: Regular interval training helps your body become more efficient at clearing lactic acid, allowing you to run at a higher intensity for longer without fatigue.

  4. Efficient Use of Training Time: Interval workouts are time-efficient. They provide significant benefits in a shorter period compared to longer, steady-state runs.

  5. Weight Loss and Metabolic Boost: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can burn a lot of calories in a short time and boost your metabolism, helping with weight management and overall fitness.

How to Use Interval Workouts

  1. Warm-Up: Always begin with a proper warm-up. This should include warm-up drills and a light jog for 10-15 minutes to prepare your muscles and cardiovascular system for the intensity to come.

  2. Structure Your Intervals: Decide on the length and intensity of your high-intensity intervals and recovery periods. The ratio of work to rest can vary depending on your goals and fitness level.

  3. Intensity Levels: During the high-intensity intervals, aim to run at a pace that is significantly faster than your normal running speed. Recovery intervals should be at a slow jog or walking pace to allow partial recovery.

  4. Gradual Progression: Start with shorter intervals and gradually increase their length and intensity as your fitness improves. Similarly, you can decrease the length of recovery periods over time.

  5. Cool Down: Finish with a cool-down period, including a light jog to help reduce muscle soreness and aid in recovery.

10 Example Interval Workouts

  1. Classic 400m Repeats

  • 10 x 400 meters at 5K race pace

  • 200 meters slow jog or walk recovery

2. Pyramid Workout

  • 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 minutes at a fast pace

  • Equal time recovery jog between intervals

3. 800m Repeats

  • 6 x 800 meters at 10K race pace

  • 400 meters slow jog recovery

4. Fartlek Session

  • 5 minutes warm-up

  • 1 minute fast, 1 minute slow x 10

  • 5 minutes cool-down

5. Mile Repeats

  • 4 x 1 mile at tempo pace

  • 2-3 minutes slow jog or walk recovery

6. Short Sprints

  • 10 x 100 meters at all-out sprint

  • 1-minute walk recovery

7. Ladder Workout

  • 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 minutes at a hard pace

  • Half the time recovery jog between intervals

8. Hill Repeats

  • 10 x 30 seconds uphill sprint

  • Walk back down recovery

9. Tempo Intervals

  • 4 x 5 minutes at tempo pace

  • 2 minutes easy jog recovery

10. Mixed Distance Intervals

  • 2 x 400 meters, 2 x 800 meters, 2 x 1200 meters at 5K pace

  • 400 meters slow jog recovery between all intervals

Interval workouts are a powerful tool in a runner's training arsenal. They help improve speed, endurance, and overall performance while offering a time-efficient way to get a high-intensity workout. By incorporating interval workouts into your routine and progressively challenging yourself, you can achieve significant improvements in your running capabilities. Whether you're aiming for a new personal best or just looking to get fitter, interval training can help you reach your goals.

To join a live-coached interval session, book a spot on one of our virtual or in-person workouts here. To speak to one of our coaches and ask about tailoring interval sessions to your specific goals, you can book a 30 minute calll here.

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