interval training advice pls (Read 76 times)


    I am just getting back into the swing of things. Feeling very healthy running three miles at about a 10 minute pace 3-4 times/week. More in the tank but don't want to push it just yet. I'm 47 and increasingly conscious of not pushing things too hard.


    I used to run intervals in high school and have been reading recently about the benefits and would like to add them to my routine. So, a few basic questions:


    What should my "fast"  and "slow" speeds be, relative to "normal" running pace?


    What  should the interval times be and should they remain constant? Obviously dependent on how long I can hold a fast pace.


    How many days a week (or percentage of total run days) should be devoted to intervals vs regular running?


    Thank much.




      If one uses a heart rate monitor, 90% MHR is high enough, though some like it higher. In terms of energy (%fat/sugar) and fiber usage, there's little difference between 95% and 90%, so I choose the one with the less stress on the body. In between, one can walk or run really slowly, getting the HR down substantially. One can go by distance or duration. For example, run 4x 400m, then rest 400m or 4 x 2:00 with 2:00 rest in between. Build up over time  more or longer reps. The rest interval is important, and one can make it longer. It's important to avoid overtraining with these. No need to do more than once every 1-2 weeks. Among other things like injury, one can run into adrenal and sleep problems if too much anaerobic work is done. Best to stay aerobic 95% of the time in my humble opinion, and to have periods in which 100% of the running is aerobic. Good luck. 


      Are we there, yet?

        At 3 miles a day it's going to be hard to get in a good interval workout. It usually takes 1-1.5 miles just to warm up properly and it's a good idea to include a .5 mile cool down. That leaves 1-1.5 miles for intervals and recovery jogs. I would suggest starting with strides at the end of a couple of your runs each week, progress to some fartlek workouts, add a little mileage, then consider intervals.

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        Old , Ugly and slow

          I would just do them once a week.

          Start with 2-3 x 200 with  a easy jog in between

          first race sept 1977 last race sept 2007


          2019  goals   1000  miles  , 190 pounds , deadlift 400 touch my toes


          Pace Prophet

            +1 to wcrunner.  Start out with strides once or twice a week. After you've warmed up (at least a mile), smoothly accelerate over a slow 6-count (about 6 seconds) to the fastest pace you can run with good form. Hold that for a 10-count, then decelerate back to easy pace over a 4-count.  When you've fully recovered, do it again. You should be able to fit in 4-6 in the back half of a 3-mile run.  But I wouldn't do more formal speedwork until you've got a bit higher running volume.


              Thanks to all for good advice.


              A heart monitor seems a good idea (suggestions for brand?)


              it sounds as if the sprinting portion really is a sprint. I used to sprint between telephone poles alternating with jogging.


              This morning, I did 36 minutes, starting with 4 minutes @ leisurely pace (11m/mile), alternating with four minutes of fast (8m30s/mile). Based on what I've read, this would not be considered interval training. Although it felt wonderful and I had more in the tank at the conclusion, I would not want to push a sprint just yet. Certainly not without a warmup at least as long as you've mentioned. Therefore, it would seem to be wise and wait a few months and get my daily mileage up a mile or two.


              Thanks again.

              an amazing likeness

                Going off-topic in the other thread, so I'm bringning it here.


                I was relating the concept of using relatively short recoveries between intervals when trying to achieve high-end aerobic development. The questions were asked why, what I was trying to acheive, etc etc. So here it goes. There are three basic types of intervals, each with a purpose:


                1) 200-400m intervals with long recoveries: The purpose of this workout is to develop raw speed, working on strength, turnover, and fast-twitch muscle coordination. To achieve this, it is important to run each interval as fast as possible. Long recoveries are used to make sure you can run each interval near maximal pace. By definition, these intervals are limited to a max of 400m in length as you can't sustain speed longer than this. If you are prepping for a 800m or 1500/1600m race, you may do 600-800m in this workout though you will likely no longer be at maximal speed, but doing more or a race simulation (ie running 800m at 1500m race pace). These workouts are actually not very fatiguing, because if you accumulate residual fatigue between intervals you can't sustain the speed required in the workout. Of the three types, this will have the fewest number of intervals in a set.


                2) 400m-1600m intervals with medium recoveries The purpose of this workout is to go into anaerobic debt on each interval and thereby stimulat building up your anaerobic capacity. This can also help somewhat with strength and speed tolerance. Moderate recoveries (say, 3+min for a 400m etc) are used to allow time to clear the lactic acid from your system and get HR back near baseline in order to be able to repeat the effort in the next interval. Comparing a 400m under this strategy to a 400m under #1 above, the time will be slower. This workout will actually feel much harder on you that #1 above, because you are working your anaerobic system so hard.


                3) 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. This is probably also the best way to develop speed tolerance for 5K-10K paced races. This is the only one of the three types where your recovery will be shorter than your intervals. For example, I run 800m intervals in 2:22-2:30 avg depending on conditioning but only jog recover 90sec. Sets will also be longer than the other two types. (I do 8-10X800 or 6-8X1000 typically). The short recoveries bring you back just enough to be able to go out and do the next interval just as fast, or slightly faster than, the previous one (if you lose the ability to hit your target in the middle of the set, start slower the next time!). Using this strategy, you spend the whole workout at a very high aerobic capacity, with each interval inching you closer and closer to anaerobic. Due to the constant demand, this is probably the most demanding of the types. Say you run a 5K in 16:00. While races are always good for development, you will rely heavily on the anaerobic component in the end stages of the race so you expose your body to high-end aerobic effort less than that 17:00. However, say you do 8X800 in 2:30 avg with 90sec recoveries. That workout will take you 32 minutes to complete, and the only time you tap anaerobic is if you try to blow out the last interval fast. You've just gotten yourself nearly twice the amount of time at sustained high-end aerobic effort! Think what that does for your development and the ability to hold high-end aerobic paces in your next race. The bulk of my speed workouts are #3. I will use #2 as a sharpening tool 2-3 times going into a key race under 10K.


                The only time I have used #1 post-college was when I was picked to run an 800m leg at the USATF Indoor Championships on a distance medley relay team. It only took 3 weeks of doing two #1 workouts per week to find speed I hadn't known I had since high school. #1 gives up its gains in just a few weeks. #2 takes a bit longer. I've successfully continued to gain by #3 for up to 4 months. But they should be ideally applied in the reverse order (#3 followed by #2 then #1 time-wise). 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). When I was peaking out I could get 5 miles of intervals in a workout but I would not recommend that unless you are winning races and runnin 90+ mpw. I have experimented with longer intervals, all the way up to 3200m. 3X3200m with 5min recovery is a great workout but the pace is getting too slow to consider it in any of the groupings above. The two last interval workouts I ran before my 10K PR were 4X2000m then 3X3000m workouts at 10K goal pace. I always dreamed of running 3X5000m with 7min recovery in 16:00 or faster but it never worked out.

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