Intervals To Make You Faster (All Runners Should Read This)

If you want to get faster or improve your time in a race, more is not going to be better. Many times I see people fall into this trap. They start running or training and build themselves up to a 5K distance, do a few races, improve their times and then start to really get into racing. They want to continue to improve their times so what do they do, they start running 4, 5,¬†and 6 miles. The thought is that if they can run farther in training than when they only have to race 3.2 miles they can run it faster…but is that neccessarily true?

It might be, depending on what level of training you are at. If you are in your first 1-1.5 years of (consistent) training as a runner more just might be better. At some point you will hit your peak and running farther will no longer illicit the same results. Something else to consider is that at the beginning of your training you get significantly better each week due to central nervous sytem responses. The body becomes more efficent at running, the lungs and heart are working better after a few weeks, and your gait improves to fit your body/style of running.

So, what happens when you increase your running to 5, 6, and 7 miles with no improvement of race times…It’s time to start interval training. Here’s why it works:

1. Running farther often means that you are running slower. If you can run a 5K in 30 minutes most likely a 10K might take 65 minutes. So, running farther= running slower does not mean better 5K times

2. Running short distances at faster speeds in quarter, half, and mile repeats improve power and speed and will have an effect on your 5K times. This works so well because your body adapts to these new, faster times in shorter distances and subsequently will carry over to your races. Your heart, lungs, and mind now know what its like to run at these faster speeds.

3. You are only as good as how you train. Train slow and you race slow. Train at faster speeds and you will race faster.

My take on how 5K training should be done:

1. I believe that if you are only training for a 5K then long distance runs not need exceed 4-4.5 miles. I have even read a story where there was a runner who never trained more than 2.5 miles and had an incredibly fast 5K time.

2. 3 days a week of training is sufficient

3. You need to have a balance between long distance and intervals. I used to set up my weeks so it encompassed a long distance run, interval, and moderate distance run at a slightly faster speed.

So, know that we know why intervals are important for runner’s how do we set them up?

There is any number of ways to set up interval based training but I prefer to set up as follows:

Week 1- Short intervals- 200-600 meter intervals

Week 2- A mix of short and long (800-1600 meter)

Week 3- Long Interval Repeats

Week 4- 1.5-2 mile race pace or fatser than race pace, then finish with short intervals

The final step is timing on these intervals. Figure out what your average mile time is. Lets say that we ran our last 5K in 30:24. We then figure out what our average mile was, in this case its 9:30/mile. When it comes to intervals we have two types:

1. Speed Pace- This interval is used for any interval up to 800 meters. Its your race pace (9:30min/mile) minus 30sec.

2. Race Pace- This intevral is used for any interval from 800-1600+ meters and is the exact pace that you ran your 5K in.

*The 800 meter interval can be both a speed or race pace depending on how your program your intervals or the day.

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