Change of Pace: Importance of Interval Training
Written by: Ron Incerta
In light of our new running club, I think it is appropriate to discuss a hot topic among trainees and coaches. Interval training. The what’s, the why’s, and the results you can expect.
Interval training is a method of training that involves alternating predetermined periods of work at specific intensities, with periods of rest(inactivity) or recovery(low intensity activity) for a given amount of time or repetitions. This system has multiple functional sport applications to improve overall performance, but today I will put spotlight on it’s application for distance running.
If you know me, you’ll understand that I tend to get a little too in depth when trying to explain things, so I’m going to try to give you JUST the GOOD STUFF! However, stick with me on this because the more you know, the more potential you will unleash!
Three energy systems:
- Phosphagen System: Stimulated at the beginning of all activities, very short and intense. (< 30 seconds)
- Glycolitic System: provides energy for intense to moderately intense activities. ( 30 seconds to about three minutes)
- Aerobic System: low to moderate intensities longer than three minutes
These are all systems that you should recognize in the design of your program and workouts. Each system will inherently become stimulated, however putting focus on improvement of each one is how you will become an overall better runner. In short, it all circles back around to improving performance, reducing over-training syndrome, and breaking monotonous routines!
Factors that affect interval training in your program:
- What is your distance goal?
Knowing what distance you are trying to achieve will play a vital role in programming your intensity and frequency.
- What is your CURRENT fitness level?
Whether you’re beginner or experienced marathoner, I highly recommend working with a coach or trainer to get a “test” of where you currently stand. Just because you ran your best Boston Marathon time ever… 5 years ago… does NOT mean things are the same today. Order a slice of humble pie, your knees will thank me later.
- When do you plan on “racing”?
“Racing” is a general term I use with all my clients and athletes. I’ll say it again, if you know me, you know that I strictly apply programming and vocabulary to ON THE FIELD. If you are running in a timed event, whether it be 5k, 10k, or ultra-marathon, I consider you a “racer” and you should too. Knowing when your goal event is will be crucial to programming your mileage week by week. You never want to begin a new program right before a race.
Now, everyBODY is different. With that being said, it is hard to give specific guidelines on what is going to be best for YOU. However, here is a challenge you can adapt to your ability and hopefully kick your butt!
4 week High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Program:
Week One: 30 seconds @ 80% effort. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat x10.
Week Two: 20 seconds @ 90% effort. Rest 120 seconds. Repeat x10.
Week Three: 30 seconds @ 90% effort. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat x10.
Week Four: 20 seconds @ 110% effort. Rest 150 seconds. Repeat x10.
Let me know how it goes for you! Good luck!
Train Hard. Train Smart. Have Fun.