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How to get started with interval training


You are used to always running at the same speed and at the same pace and that's great! But if you want to keep on making progress, now is the time for you to go one step further.


What is interval training?

In addition to your stamina and endurance, which you work on regularly during your sessions, here's a new exercise: "interval training". The idea is simple: it involves alternating periods of fast running with slower ones. With this form of training, you will be able to run faster, including during long runs (endurance).

To develop your ability to run faster, you will be trying to increase your "MAS" (Maximal Aerobic Speed). To improve your MAS, you must start with short interval training, later followed by long interval training (more "fast run" time) which allows you to use a higher percentage of MAS.

It's the combination of these two forms of interval training that will allow you to push yourself further and help you improve your running speed. Those who race, particularly on roads, will also have an interest in not neglecting their specific speeds (average pace to keep to throughout the run).

For example, a runner who wants to do 10 km in 46 minutes (about 13 km/h) should do interval training sessions at a specific pace of 13 km/h, in order to accustom his body to be as comfortable as possible at this speed. This same runner would have a different specific speed if he wanted to train for a half marathon. He could aim for a time of 1:45, averaging 12 km/h, which would then become his specific speed for a half marathon. And so on, depending on the distance you are planning to run. The same runner therefore has several specific speeds depending on the distance he is preparing for, which he will have to work on and learn to master during his training.


How to do interval training

An interval training session is still divided into 3 parts:

- The warm up of around 20 minutes for stamina (jogging pace)

- The heart of the session (see different sessions below)

Experienced runners will precede interval training exercises with GPP (General Physical Preparedness), i.e.: knee ups, heel ups, straight-leg kickouts, jumps, side shuffle, etc.

- The cool down of around 10 minutes, eliminating the waste products produced by the muscles during exercise (lactic acid) and helping you recover.


Some examples of interval training sessions

You are going to alternate between fast and slow running, either on a track with distance exercises (200m, 400m, 1000m, etc.), or on a road or in the countryside, where you will work in terms of running time (30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 4 minutes, etc.).

Here are a few ideas for sessions depending on your level. They are divided into two:

- beginner runners (who want to improve their speed and stamina)

- experienced runners (who want to improve their race times).


Beginner runner

Experienced runner (less than 40 minutes for 10 km)

10 x 200m fast and 100m of recovery

2 x (8 x 200m r = 40s) R = 2’ between sets

12 x 30’ and 30’ of recovery

2 x (10 x 30s-30s) R = 2’ between sets

6 x 400m and 200m recovery

10 x 400m Recovery = 1’

8 x 1’ and recovery 1’

10 x 1’30 Recovery 1’

3 x 800m recovery 400m

6 x 800m R = 1’30

3 x 3’ recovery 1’30

7 x 3’ R = 1’30

3 x 1000m recovery 400m

5 x 1000m R= 2’

3 x 5’ recovery 2’30

5 x 4’ R = 2’

2 x 2000m recovery 600m

3000m-2000m-1000m R = 2’30

Be sure to wear appropriate clothing. During the warm up you should stay covered up and for interval training you will need ease of movement and to be able to quickly expel heat. Opt for lighter shoes than those you use for long endurance training runs (where you need greater cushioning).


Enjoy interval training!

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