Interval Training

I got to say, intervals are one of my favorite things to run as they can keep me motivated and going when running in place on a a treadmill. They are a great way to break a long run into little, manageable pieces and help bring you to your end goal with ease. Well, perhaps not easy ease but it helps.

With this in mind, my interval training isn't always at maximum interval training effort. Sometimes I need to pull back on that intensity because trust me, no one should run at 110% effort for every run especially when they run every day.

I know many may know exactly what interval training is but for those who are new to running or just want a refresher, here you go!

Intervals are specific speed work that consists of a set number of repetitions at a set distance and a set pace with a specific recovery. Traditional the work is done in 400m or 0.5 mile increments with a rest and work interval. This is how intervals are different from fartlek runs where you randomly pick up the pace and ease back. Intervals are structured and specific and have an intended purpose. And it is best to run them where you know the exact distance. A track is awesome but soft terrain works well too as long as you know the distance.

Last Saturday I strayed a bit from the norm and ran my intervals in 5 minute segments. This works beautifully for those running at a pace of 10'00" or faster as it is pushing you a wee bit further in each interval. But that isn't why I opted for 5 minutes. The end state goal of running 10 miles seemed too big for me when I stepped on the treadmill so I broke it down into 5 minute segments and focused on time, not distance. After a 1.5 mile warm-up at a 10'00" pace I started my interval work and worked for 75 minutes never dropping below a 9'50" pace and wrapped it up with a 1 mile cool down at a 10'00" pace. Ironically, my 95 minutes run brought me EXACTLY to 10 miles! Thank you God!

But what are the benefits of running intervals? Intervals can be tough but they are not full sprint tough. They are beneficial since running intervals trains the cardiovascular and muscular systems to better utilize oxygen while removing carbon dioxide and lactic acid. They improve your fast twitch muscles functioning and this is good since these fibers tend to fire fast and tire quickly. They come into play in anaerobic conditions and you want strength here. The three things I love about intervals is that running them can promote more efficient running form (I do feel my body pulling into shape), teach patience with low grade physical discomfort, and keep me motivated. And intervals improve strength.

With all those good benefits, why not run intervals right now? Well, there are risks.

You could be risking injury to soft tissues and muscles or fatigue. This list isn't too long but a serious injury could sideline you longer than you would like so push yourself but be sensible. Like I said, since I run intervals a lot to keep me going, they are not always at 110% effort.

Should you run intervals? I think we all can as soon as we are ready. Runners need a solid base before adding on other elements. If you are running more than 20 miles a week and have done tempo runs, hills, and fartleks, you may be ready! If you add in that you are an experienced runner with a base of 500+ miles you are definitely ready! Having one 20 mile week in which you do one tempo, one hill session, and one fartlek doesn't give you the green light just yet. Keep building up your pace and by golly, listen to your body!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful the intervals brought me to my mileage goal.

Daily Bible Verse: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:23-25

Still need help? I am a certified running coach and offer virtual training with personalized lesson plans plus I am here to help you with all of your fitness and health goals. My contact info is HERE.


  1. I love intervals too and need to get them back into my weekly running routine! They definitely make a difference and help you get more comfortable with those faster paces!


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