The importance of interval training in running

For any type of running distance, it is vital to measure speed through intervals in shorter distances adapting to a stronger pace and gaining agility.

Within a training plan, interval training will allow us to gain speed and face our next races stronger improving our competition pace.

For any type of preparation, there are different possible intervals. From short (ranging from 50 meters), to long (which have a base of 1000 meters), but must also take into account those that accumulate hills and slopes, to gain power and improve our pace.

The appropriate pace for the series will be based on each runner. The intensity of that pace is the key to any type of training.

When training short intervals, it must be understood that these are just a part of our plan and the mere realization of them will not necessarily bring benefits. It must be understood that different aspects have to be trained to achieve improvement.

Making many short intervals allows us to improve our maximum VO2, that is, the maximum amount of oxygen that our muscles can absorb.

With this approach, we work on improving the anaerobic side through a lot of short series load.

Through this, a very practical type of training can be achieved that works on our capacity to hold distance and speed at the same time. The most advisable thing would be to make series that go from 50 meters to 400 at a fast pace (not the maximum) with a recovery of a similar distance at a smooth pace without stopping and then continue with the next series.

Keep in mind that the smaller the distance, the faster the pace at which you run it. On the other hand, if the distance is greater, the pace should be slower and steady. Regardless, these intervals are to be done faster than our expected race pace.

Physically, this effort demands more energy, blood, and oxygen for the muscles, so at the end of the training, it’s normal for any athlete to feel exhaustion and fatigue.

Also, keep in mind that the average recovery period in short intervals should not exceed 30 or 45 seconds.

That is why in these series not only the pace is important, but also the recovery intervals.

Regarding the evolution of your training, athletes will feel a higher perceived level of exhaustion right off the interval training but as days go by the body will adapt to the effort and your legs will gain greater speed as strength. Thus, the body will adapt to a much greater demand.

Generally speaking, when we do interval training, we usually demand a greater expenditure of power and, for that, a greater number of muscle fibers. Therefore, it is preferable to have recoveries that are not too short. When training distances between 500 meters and two kilometers, it is best to rest for about a minute.

When the intervals are 3 kilometers or more, it is usual to take two-minute resting intervals.

Another alternative is to implement active recovery, jogging in order to keep an active heart rate.

This type of work also allows us to have a better running feeling at a high pace. The ideal thing in a workout is to start the first interval easy and finish strongest on the last one.

The positive results of interval training will not be seen on whether one responds adequately at the beginning of the workout, but rather in how you feel after the work is finished and whether you can sustain your target pace throughout the full duration of the training.

Only after several months of systematic training will you begin to notice the first symptoms of an obvious progression, so you should plan your training taking into account your key competitions in order to be at your best on race day.

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