In the past I’ve done what I’ve believed to be interval training – running for a short distance at a fast pace, then either slowing down or walking for a shorter distance. Repeat a few times.
Now, while I’m not entirely wrong, my version of interval training is actually more correctly termed ‘fartlek’ training where there is no structure to the training and you’re not necessarily pushing yourself to your limits.
“fartlek is unstructured and alternates moderate-to-hard efforts with easy throughout. After a warmup, you play with speed by running at faster efforts for short periods of time (to that tree, to the sign) followed by easy-effort running to recover.”
Interval training on the other hand is where you are pushing yourself to your limits, based on a time period, and then rest for short periods in between.
“you’re running above your red line and at an effort where you are reaching hard for air and counting the seconds until you can stop—a controlled fast effort followed by a truly easy jog. The secret is in the recovery as patience and discipline while you’re running easy allows you to run the next interval strong and finish the entire workout fatigued but not completely spent.”
I was recently invited to join an interval training session in the evenings so I decided to give this proper training a go…. and boy oh boy did it make the HUGEST difference!
It’s run by actual coaches so there’s no mucking about. We’re there to work hard, and that’s what we do! The session changes up each week to keep things fun and interesting so although I’m only planning on going every second week, I’ll always have something new to look forward to when I’m there.
This week was on the slightly easier side of things – everyone there commented how much easier it was than last week (glad I wasn’t there then! 😉 )
We jogged, very slowly, out to the start point – a 1.6 km little jog. Then we did a couple of lunges / squats etc. to keep the muscles warm and start engaging them for what’s to come. And then the interval training starts! The idea is to run at your best pace for 1km, then a 4 minute rest. Then run for 800m, with a slightly shorter rest. As the distance gets shorter, so do the rests in-between, and you’re increasing your pace each time because the distance is shorter… until you’re running only 100m at a completely flat-out pace. Extremely hard work which we then followed up with a very easy 500m jog. And then after a bit of chit chat we headed back the 1.6km’s to where we started.
Here’s a chart of my heartrate during the workout, including the jog out to the start point.
The effort shows what percentage of my max heartrate I was in at any particular time of the workout – and you’ll notice that a very large part of it was in 80-90% of my max heartrate.
By doing this type of exercising, I’m teaching my body to improve its aerobic capacity, which will allow me to exercise for longer, at more intense levels… which eventually boils down to me being able to push myself harder in races and get better and faster each time.
Here’s to hopefully getting a sub-2 hour half marathon this season!