The Optimum Interval Session

Interval Session

running

 

While endurance buffs often revel in long, slow runs, any good training regimen will also include some high-intensity sessions. This often comes in the form of interval training, which can create significant jumps in fitness. Ultimately, as endurance athletes, we want to be able to sustain as fast a speed as possible over the duration of our events. Proper training including workouts aimed at increasing speed will improve one’s lactate threshold (LT), the point at which lactate is produced at such a rapid rate it cannot be cleared. The benefit of inter- val training is that it helps us increase our LT.

New research offers insight into the ideal length of the intervals themselves, as well as how to best recover. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic pulled together 37 separate studies on interval training and VO2max to get a clearer picture of what scientists collectively know about interval training. They identified three-to-five- minute intervals as being the most effective.

Another recent study in the UK examined the recovery piece. While some coaches favour complete rest between intervals, this research revealed that active recovery was more effective in clearing metabolites from the muscles. This, in turn, allows athletes to recover faster between high-intensity bouts when they keep moving, which also likely leads to better performance during those subsequent intervals. Running easy or jogging between intervals will help clear lactic acid quicker because it is being reused as fuel at a faster rate when you’re moving around.

The next time you’re heading to the track or trail for some high-intensity training, consider the following workouts. Start with workout 1 before graduating to 2 and 3. Keep in mind that intervals should not be performed all-out. This means that it should feel difficult, but you shouldn’t be sprinting. The point of these workouts is to be able to do multiple intervals, not crash and burn after the first couple.

Interval Workout 1
Warm up 10 min, 5×3 min at 5K pace
Jog easy for 3 min between each
Cool down 10 min

Interval Workout 2
Warm up 10 min, 4×4 min at 5K pace
Jog easy for 2 min between each
Cool down 10 min

Interval Workout 3
Warm up 10 min, ?4×5 min at 5K pace
Jog easy 2:30 between each
Cool down 10 min

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