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A lot of track athletes really love interval workouts, and here’s why: The time on the road goes fast, exertion is matched by periods of rest, and the results are relatively quick. There are plenty of different types of interval workouts that you can integrate into your speed regimen. Here are some of our favorites.
Short Distance Intervals
Warm up with a slow 2-mile run (advanced runners can push to 4 miles). Follow this with distance repeats: 3 repetitions of 100 meters at all-out pace; 3 repetitions of 150 meters at all-out pace; and 3 repetitions of 100 meters again, at an all-out pace. Following this workout, cool down for a minimum of 2 miles.
After a 1-mile warm-up, you can dive into the 400-meter (or quarter-mile) repeats. Because this is a sustained sprint, you’ll want to run these at 70-80 percent exertion. Walk or jog for one minute in between repetitions as recovery. Repeat 6 times (for beginners) or 8 times (for advanced runners). Cool down with a 1-mile run.
Longer Distance Intervals
Warm up with a 1-mile jog. Follow this with either 800-meter (half-mile) or mile repeats. The pace should be challenging—you should be able to talk, but not hold a conversation. Recovery should be a jog that takes half the amount of time as the interval itself. Repeat for 3 miles of repetitions (for beginners), or 6 miles of repetitions (for advanced runners). Cool down with 1 mile at conversation pace.
Some runners perform better with time as a marker as opposed to distance. As a result, any of these workouts can be swapped out for approximate timed intervals (30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds, 4 minutes, and 8 minutes are good time markers to use). Resting intervals should be the same amount of time as the interval itself for the shorter intervals and half the time for the 4 and 8-minute intervals.