Yet another interval thread... (Read 345 times)


    I was reading through npaden's interval thread and had wanted to jump in, but I didn't want to hijack his thread. npaden asked a lot of good questions specific to his training and goal, and I had learned quite a bit from the responses. Still, I have a somewhat more basic issue... I have no time/distance goals and really have no idea what I'm doing. I'm not sure if I know enough to ask the right questions, so pls bear with me on my rambling.

    I've spent this past year doing mostly easy runs and long runs only, interval is new to me. My "goal" is to build up my fitness more, I have no race or time goal, I just want to be able to run faster in general. As Jeff has pointed out to me before, I need to run more, and sometimes run faster. I'm trying to fix my deficiency in the "faster" part. I believe doing more tempo runs is probably the better answer, but there's a reason I started running intervals. I found a running group that runs intervals every Monday. I run by myself all the time and I found that I enjoyed the social aspect of running with a group, plus it gets me more motivated. So I figured since I will stay with this group, I may as well try to get the most out of the trainings. The coach of the group doesn't actually coach us individually, his role is more of an organizer: getting the lights on, leading us through warm up and cool down stretching ... etc. He does the workout along with everyone so practically he's just another runner in the group. So far I've been to 5 sessions, and the coach prescribes a different training every time. He had mentioned that these trainings are mostly geared for 5k and 10k runners. We should run them as easy or as hard as we want them to be, and run more or fewer reps as we see fit.

    Being new to this, the problem I have is that I have no clue what to do with that open-ended suggestion. I feel like I'm blindly following some routines not knowing why I'm doing them, nevermind trying to customize it. I don't know what the trade-offs are, so I don't know how to make the most out of it. Faster/slower/more reps/fewer reps? I didn't know what to do so I just ran along with whatever was suggested for the day.

    The runs we had done so far are as follow:

    (800 + 200 recovery) x 4 + (400 + 200 recovery) x 4

    1600+1200+800+400+400 (200 recovery in between)
    (800 + 100 recovery + 300 + 200 recovery) x 4
    (1500 + 100 recovery) x 3
    (1000 + 200 recovery) x 5

    Here's a series of very random thoughts and notes that may or may not be relevant, I'm hoping at least some of them will help shed light on if I'm doing the interval trainings properly and/or how to change them:

    I jog 2 miles to the track as warmup. Very easy pace between 9-10min/mi. After intervals and group stretches, I jog 2 miles back home, around 9-10min/mi pace. I felt recovered enough and was not exhausted.

    I'm very poor at hitting pace targets, that's why I don't have a goal or training pace. I can not tell if I'm running at 9:00 or 8:30. I can only judge effort level and relative pace (I'm running this lap faster than the last lap...etc) Because of this, I need some feedback as to how I should adjust my interval *efforts* rather than going after specific paces.

    My 5K PR was at 7:04 pace (21:57), and I ran the interval trainings between 6-7 min pace. My 5K PR was from a couple months ago before I started interval trainings. I usually walk during recovery so I get enough time to recover (is that ok? should I jog them and not loiter for that long?). I try to run my last rep the hardest (at race effort) and pick up speed the last 200m. By "hardest" I mean I felt that I would not be able to recover enough for another rep at similar pace. My last rep is usually the fastest.

    I'm getting anal on semantics. If the purpose is to learn to run fast, what is "fast"? I read that the intervals should be run @ 5k pace? I didn't target a specific pace during my intervals, but I think it would not feel hard if I ran them at 7:04 pace. Does that mean I was running too fast? If I was, what is the disadvantage? Jeff mentioned several times about learning to run fast and easy, but I thought that's what tempo should feel like, and to me interval feels hard, so should I try to run intervals easier? But wouldn't that make it feel like a tempo run with lots of recovery breaks? I'm a little confused there...

    I think my endurance is poor. My FM PR is 3:59, done just a few weeks after my 5K PR. (Although it could be the result of me running a targeted sub-4 as opposed to trying to run the best race). Because of this I think I should run easier on my intervals and run more reps. Am I right or wrong, or totally missed the boat?

    I use a garmin for record-keeping, but not as active feedback during the run. (I still need to look because I often forget which lap I was on)

    One new thing I have learned this month is that I can now differentiate the effort threshold where I go from (a) "sustainably hard" where my breathing is heavy but stable, although my pace slows gradually due to leg getting tired as I run longer, to (b) "hard" where I really suck air and have to slow down to keep my breathing in control. I usually do effort slightly below (a) in my intervals and run (b) for the last few hundred meters of the last rep. Is this the anaerobic threshold? Should I be running as close to this threshold as possible during intervals? (I have looked up definitions on these running terms, I'm learning to correspond them to how I feel/experience during a run)

    I do about 2 hours of long run on Sat or Sun and I usually don't feel very fresh when I do the intervals. No sure if that's good or bad.

    I do an easy run on Tuesday and it felt ok (do not feel extra sore or slow or difficult)

    I feel that I should not cut down my weekend long run to accommodate a stronger interval workout, good/bad idea?

    I'm possibly overthinking again, maybe these intervals aren't important at this stage of my running. But will running the intervals easy turn them into "junk" training?

    Is the whole premise wrong to begin with: trying to adjust training without a defined goal/target?

    I know I seriously lack direction...

      "I want you to pray as if everything depends on it, but I want you to prepare yourself as if everything depends on you."

      -- Dick LeBeau


        The definitive RA interval information thread.


        Thanks Clive (and Spaniel!!) That's an awesome thread, with a lot of info to absorb (a little too overwhelming Smile.


        It seems that I have been running type (3) intervals: "400m-3000m intervals with short recoveries The purpose of this workout is to give your body an extended period of time at the very upper limits of your aerobic zone." Although Spaniel's description seem to suggest that this type requires a lot more sets/reps (10x800, 8x1000) than I was doing (only half as many).I think I got the answer I was looking for:


        "When using #3, I suggest those newer to intervals start out at 2 miles of total intervals and work their way up. A well-conditioned and relatively quick runner should be able to get in 4 miles of these intervals in a session (not counting recoveries)."


        I think I'll need to run more sets (if able to) than the coach prescribed.


          I think I'm in the same boat. I run and do intervals but I need to pick up the intensity.