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# Just how important are Intervals as part of the overall running picture? (Read 264 times)

OK, a quick history first:  I started running 3 years ago at age 37.   I run 30-40 MPW (when healthy).   I do a race nearly every weekend, and run all distances from 5K up to the 24-hour races, so I have been doing speed and endurance races intermixed throughout the year.   Still hitting PR's in all aspects, slowly improving.          On Training, the past 3 years consists of the following:

1)  Long Runs.  (At least one a week, sometimes 2 per week.  (10 to 15 miles, about a 9:00 pace...)

2)  "Tempo" runs.  There is a 2-mile loop around my neighborhood and I define "tempo" personally as doing that loop at about 80-90% max effort.   ((About 8:00 miles))

3)  "Hill Sprints".  I live in VA, it is flat here, so I measure one mile of a "Hill Sprint" by running up and down the stairwell 50 times x 13 steps, so about 650 stairs total.  Takes about 10 minutes....

4)  "Speed Drills".  And my definition of a speed drill is running the 2-mile loop around the neighborhood as fast as I can.  ((About 7:00 to 7:30 miles when fastest)).

----  I was talking to someone this weekend at a race about what I do, and they said "you aren't doing intervals!"  I hate intervals, so have never put those in a weekly training plan ever....  They stated my speed would improve dramatically if I did intervals.

So the question:   Based on my training, and the following PR's:  1 Mile:  6:36  -----  5K:  21:29,  ---  8K, 38:10,  ----  10K: 48:48 -----   Most of my 5K times the past couple years have fallen in the 22:30 to 23:30 range.      I am 5 foot 9, so don't have the genetics and long natural running legs to be superfast.

If I added in some tough interval sessions a couple times weekly (in place of the 2 mile tempo runs), about how much time could I expect to take off of my 5K time??  ((Asking this of experienced, long time runners, running coaches, or anyone who has added intervals to their running plan + what improvements they saw)

-- I don't like intervals, but I'll dang sure do them if they will get me substantially better times on the 5K and other distances I want to push for better PR's in !

The Plan '15 →   ///    "Run Hard, Live Easy."   ∞

Feeling the growl again

Nobody can tell you how much time you would take off.

Intervals aren't something you just sprinkly in year-round though.  If you do them weekly for ~8 weeks, you're going to get about all you can out of them.  We can argue a few weeks either way, but fact is that the gains from intervals stop after a comparatively short time.  So pick a few goal 5Ks over a 4-8 week period, and lead in with the 8wk of intervals.  Golden.

"If you want to be a bad a\$s, then do what a bad a\$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills

I don't fit your criteria for experience, but one thing that jumped out at me is that you don't have any short, quick stuff in there to work on power and neuromuscular gains. Whether that would help I don't know.

Hill "sprints" are typically in the neighborhood of 10 sec with full recoveries. A set of 10 (give or take) should take about 10 min. (can't remember whether that was in Hudson's book or where). You appear to be doing way too many with inadequate recoveries to reap the benefits of that workout.

Similarly, "speed drills" are sorta long, the way you describe them. What most people describe as "speed drills" is shorter and quicker than 2mi. Some examples. 2 mi loop is too long to maintain intensity.

Some people have said that if the "work" part of whatever you're doing is longer than 90 sec, it's not speed work since you can't maintain intensity for that long. Some reps might work out to about 3-5 min for some benefits.

I don't know how your paces actually line up across distances to see where your weak points are.  (I'm usually doing hilly trail races or snowy ones, so haven't worried about that stuff.)

And if you don't like intervals, just call them fartleks.

BTW, I believe that Lydiard referred to intervals as "eye-wash". That's not to say you can't benefit from them, but rather knowing what effort and duration to use for both the work and recovery portions can be challenging. I agree with spaniel that you'll get the benefits in a fairly short time, but do them after building a base.

Do you think if you trained more and raced less, you might get faster? (just things that are jumping out at me)

"So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

Dont worry about your height. 5'9 is actually taller than average for a long distance runner. London Marathon mens winner last year was 5"2 and Haile Gebrselassie is only 5'5.

Like Spaniel says pick a 5k and work towards it with intervals once a week 8 weeks out.

Your weekly mileage is still lowish so improvements could be made by going up to 50 mpw.

Your tempo is a little short. Try 4 miles at tempo pace. It should suck but you feel like you accomplished something decent after.

NHLA

It helps if you can run intervals with a group. Its easier to run fast with competition.

My group meets tues. 5:30 am.

Buy some Hoka's you will be 2" taller.

We have a cross country series where 7 races only cost \$50.

I pick somebody fast like 19 min 5k fast and try to keep up as long as I can.

I might not be able to keep up but two miles but I run fast and learn not to come out too fast in a real race.

There's tons of low-hanging fruit in your training. Intervals are not where I would start.

Runners run.

Interval Junkie --Nobby

What's to hate about Intervals?  You run 800m then you REST!  You just do it a few times.  Much easier than a tempo run, if you ask me.

2015 Goals: Chicago Marathon BQ -- don't push it

Current Status 08/23: Not in the shape I want, but healthy just the same.

JimR

Agreed.  Lots of racing, not much training.

There's tons of low-hanging fruit in your training. Intervals are not where I would start.

Yes, the Kenyans and Ethiopians will never be any good at running because they don't have long legs.  Too bad for them.

I am 5 foot 9, so don't have the genetics and long natural running legs to be superfast.

to this point, I will not give my own advice but will rather offer up a link to an old post by Spaniel

Interval Purposes

I keep this post (and a few others by those faster and more experienced than me) to remind me of what I am doing right now versus what I need to do to prepare for a race.

In case you find it interesting here is the other post that I re-read at least a few times a year.

Sayeth Jeff!! Keep it simple, yo!

It helps if you can run intervals with a group. Its easier to run fast with competition.

Buy some Hoka's you will be 2" taller.

I pick somebody fast like 19 min 5k fast and try to keep up as long as I can.

I might not be able to keep up but two miles but I run fast and learn not to come out too fast in a real race.

Lol, Well I do wear a shirt with a big "Hoka" advertisement on the back and folks repeatedly ask me why I am not wearing Hokas!  Perhaps it is time to buy a pair.  Seriously, my knees do hurt on occasion, time to try something with more padding + see if things are better.  Hard to run fast on achy knees as I had a month ago.  --

But again, thanks for all the comments all.  I do race alot without many "goal" races.  That is just what I do...  I love having a race on the sched every weekend to get me up on Saturday morning.     I do less races in the summer and winter, and many of those races in the winter are more winter series "training" than actual races....  15, 20 mile distance prep for a March marathon and April 24-hour attempt.

Think I am going to change my plan from "random distances here and there", to a more focused plan.  First focus will be for longer distances in prep for March and April long races, then shifting to more focus on intervals Fartleks for May-July for faster 1 Mile - 10K attempts. :-)

The Plan '15 →   ///    "Run Hard, Live Easy."   ∞