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Introduction to Interval Training

Introduction to Interval Training

What is interval training?

 

It refers to high intensity training but in short intervals. Each interval is followed by a rest period before the next set.

Also known as HIIT (high-intensity interval training), interval training can be purely running-based but it could also refer to other forms of exercise such as burpees, jump squats and mountain climbers.

 

Why should I run intervals?

 

Interval training would help to bring your running to the next level especially if it is something which you have never incorporated into your program before. In addition to enhancing performance, interval training also allows you to break away from the monotony of the traditional long slow distance (LSD) training.

Compared to continuous endurance exercise like LSD, interval training has been proven to help athletes increase their VO2 max which is the amount of oxygen the body can use during intense exercise. The more oxygen the body can process, the faster and further one can go before feeling tired.

Other effects of interval training include increased volume of blood the heart is able to pump at maximum exertion as well as increase in the size and number of mitochondria in muscle cells which would allow the muscles sustain a greater force over a longer period of time.

 

How do I start interval training?

 

In terms of gear, you would want an attire which will keep you comfortable both during the sprints and the breaks in between.  As for footwear, your race day shoes would be ideal for such sessions. These racers are built for pace and tend to be lightweight and responsive, ideal for interval training. Some examples of racers include Nike Zoom Fly Flyknit, adidas Adizero prime, ASICS Gel-DS Trainer 24 and ON Clouflow.

You can either run your intervals based on a fixed distance or duration. For example, if you are new to interval training, you can consider 10 x 400 meters at close to maximum effort with the same distance as a break in-between each set for a start. As you get more comfortable with the intensity, you can increase the distances or shorten the recovery time. Recovery should be active rather than a full rest, ie. a slow jog, and should be easy enough so that you are able to complete the full session.

 

 

Sample interval training sessions:

 

1km warm-up @ easy pace

400m @ race pace

200m active rest

Repeat 10 x

1k cool down @ easy pace

1km warm-up @ easy pace

800m @ race pace

400m active rest

Repeat 4 x

1k cool down @ easy pace

 

Where should I do interval training?

 

Interval training is usually done on the track since intervals of 400 m or multiples of 400 m are common interval sets. If you choose to base your interval training on duration rather than distance, training can be done on the road or trails as well.