When you first start running, it might feel like you are pushing yourself to the limit at every turn. However, it only takes a few outings for your body to adjust and for you to realize that you have a variety of speeds available to you. Changing up the sorts of runs you do during your training will help you increase your fitness significantly.
Interval training is the most effective way to increase your speed across any distance. While slow and steady runs are excellent for building stamina and preparing you for the mental toughness required for distance events such as 10Ks, half-marathons, and marathons, if you want to increase your speed across any distance, you must run fast.
Performing interval training entails running hard for short periods of time followed by lengthier recovery intervals during which you jog or stroll, depending on your preference. Not to belabor the point, but the hard periods must be extremely challenging in order for interval training to be effective. The benefits of interval training include increased running efficiency and the ability to maintain higher speeds for longer periods of time, as well as the ability to burn large amounts of calories very quickly. As a general rule, if you reach the halfway point of your recovery time and are able to run hard again, the likelihood is that you did not push yourself hard enough during the previous session.
Although there are many various approaches to interval training, the fundamental premise of alternating high-intensity activity with recuperation remains the same throughout. The duration of the work intervals will influence the type of advantages you get from the session, but you can rest confident that any type of interval training will be quite beneficial. You can discover a variety of interval sessions across a variety of lengths to test out further down the page. Get your sprint on!
When it comes to running exercises, interval running is a means of arranging them to allow for more intensity and better aerobic progress while requiring less overall time spent per workout.
If you are a healthy adult between the ages of 18 and 65, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggest that you participate in moderate aerobic activity for 30 minutes five days per week, regardless of your age or special health goals.
Alternatively, you can engage in strenuous aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes three times a week to satisfy this goal, which is recommended.
In order to increase aerobic progress while decreasing the total time spent each session, interval running is a very effective method of doing so. It also conforms to the American Council on Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommendations of receiving at least 20 minutes of strenuous cardiovascular activity three times each week.
How do you go about doing interval running?
Interval running involves performing a few minutes of mild jogging to warm up before starting your run. Following that, the majority of the workout is made up of short bursts of high-intensity running, followed by intervals of lower-intensity jogging, strolling, or even sitting.
Running at a high effort for 30 minutes is more physically demanding than walking, and the lower intensity pace allows you to recuperate briefly before continuing at a high level for another 30-minute period.
During the high-intensity pace, each interval phase lasts 10–60 seconds, while during the lower intensity pace, each interval period lasts 10–60 seconds. These are referred to as “duty cycles” in the coaching world.
It is dependent on your personal fitness objectives, conditioning level, and available time for working out that the precise duration of each duty cycle, including the ratio of high intensity to low-intensity time in each cycle, is determined.
The work-rest ratio is a measure of the relationship between high intensity and low intensity, and it is an important variable in the design of interval running regimens.
In general, as compared to a regular running program, the structure of interval running programs allows for significantly greater time spent at higher intensities.
When compared to lengthier, slower jogs, the higher intensity leads to bigger improvements in your maximal aerobic capacity and engages more muscle fibers overall.
Beginners’ guide to running interval sessions
Sprinting intervals ranging from 100m (a quarter lap of a conventional running track, i.e. one straight stretch) to 400m are used in this session. In order to improve your speed and power, as well as your ability to maintain both, short intervals should be practiced. In addition to improving sprinting speed, they are beneficial for marathon runners since they will allow you to maintain your current marathon pace with less effort.
For you to be able to sustain a constant level of performance between short intervals, recovery periods should be rather long – typically three times as long as the intervals themselves. Unless you give yourself enough time to recuperate between intervals, you will find yourself sluggishly moving from one to the next, and the exercise will turn into a test of your fatigue resistance rather than a speed and power-building session. Exercise (such as running) or rest (such as reading) can be used to recuperate (standing or walking).
In addition to being middle-distance, intervals between 600 and 1,200 meters may be utilized to develop aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, and fatigue resistance, all of which assist you to run faster and for longer periods of time while maintaining your fitness. This distance cannot be covered by running at maximum pace, therefore attempt to maintain a speed of around 70% of your maximum. Even while it is not an exact science, a basic rule to follow is that if you see yourself becoming more sluggish, increase your speed just a little bit so that you are just a little bit outside of your comfort zone. Even while the goal is to complete each interval at the fastest possible pace, it is more crucial to finish the intervals than it is to exhaust oneself completely. Do not begin your next interval until you have completely recovered from the last one.
Intervals over a long distance
There are 1,600-3,000m in length between long intervals. You will not be able to sustain full speed for this period of time, and 70 percent effort will also be difficult; instead, make sure you are always pushing and do not fall into a jogging rhythm.
Because of their duration, it only takes a few lengthy interval workouts before you begin to see the advantages. Additionally, they are particularly effective in developing general endurance as well as raising lactate tolerance (the ability to tolerate lactic acid) (the time it takes until your muscles start to really ache). Rest times between intervals should be as long as it takes you to completely regain your breath and for your legs (or any other muscles) to cease feeling achy and fatigued after each round.
Getting started with your interval running program
These are the fundamentals.
When you do interval running, you are engaging in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which allows you to get a good workout in a short amount of time. Aerobic exercise is essentially just increasing your breathing and heart rate by using oxygen.
CDC recommends that healthy adults engage in moderate aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That equates to 150 minutes per week of work.
You absolutely do not have the time for that? Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends engaging in vigorous aerobic activity for at least 20 minutes per day, three days a week.
Because interval running provides a high level of intensity, you can count it at least partially as vigorous exercise and, as a result, you may be able to reduce your weekly cardio time.
During interval running, you can expect to do the following: a period of light jogging to warm up.
High-intensity running, followed by lower-intensity jogging, walking, or rest comprise the majority of the workout.
It is usually concluded with a period of light jogging or walking to allow the body to cool down.
Starting the ball rolling (or running) Because interval running is highly customizable, anyone who can safely jog or run can participate. Before beginning a fitness program, consult with a personal trainer or your doctor if you have an injury, a heart condition, or are unsure of your current fitness level.
Make an effort to be completely out of breath during the high-intensity intervals. While working out at a lower intensity, you should be able to comfortably converse with a friend.
Taking it step by step: the advantages of interval running
It is beneficial to move your body in any way. It does not matter whether you do interval running, long jogs, or just dance around your room like Shakira, aerobic exercise has a number of advantages, including:
- Oxygen utilization is more efficient
- lessening of heart rate
- lessening of blood pressure
- cardiovascular disease is less likely to occur
Interval training, in particular, when compared to traditional jogging, may provide some additional dope benefits, such as the following:
- Improvements in max aerobic capacity
- Increased use of fat for energy
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- More muscle fibers worked
- More calories burned
- Improved cardio-respiratory fitness
- Increased body fat burned
- Reduced workout time with similar results
Is it possible to run intervals on a treadmill?
It is not a problem if you prefer the treadmill to the path or the pavement. You can perform intervals on your machine just as easily as you do on your computer. You might even choose to increase the inclination to make things a bit more exciting.
Interval training on the treadmill
The next time you get on the treadmill, do this exercise:
- Do a 5-min jogging warmup.
- Jog at 50 percent intensity for 1 min.
- Walk at 35 percent intensity for 3 mins at a 5 percent incline.
- Jog at 65 percent intensity for 1 min at a 5 percent incline.
- Walk for 35 percent intensity for 3 mins at an 8 percent incline.
- Jog at 50 percent intensity for 1 min at an 8 percent incline.
- Do a 5-min jogging cooldown at a 1 percent incline.
What is the calorie burn rate of interval running?
The number of calories you burn when interval running is dependent on a variety of factors, including your weight, workout intensity, fitness level, and duration of the session.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 154-pound person jogging at a 5-mile-per-hour speed will burn around 295 calories in 30 minutes.
Some studies also show that high-intensity interval training (such as interval jogging) may help you burn even more calories. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), high-intensity interval training (HIIT) burns around 6 to 15% more calories than continuous training.
In other words, assuming the ACSM’s estimate is correct, the same 154-pound person may burn up to 339 calories in 30 minutes by practicing interval running. While 330 may not appear to be a significant increase above 295 at first glance, over time, this may add up to a significant difference.
Another short study conducted in 2015 discovered that participants (all men) burnt considerably more calories when they engaged in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) than when they engaged in steady-state exercise.
More study is needed to verify the calorie-burning benefits of interval running over conventional jogging, but you could find that it gives you a leg up on the competition.
Interval training is said to be beneficial for weight reduction.
The rushing of any kind — even the kind that occurs while you are running late for work — might be beneficial to your weight reduction regimen.
As reported by the American College of Sports Medicine, interval training, in particular, is excellent for burning belly fat and losing weight while preserving muscle mass.
Researchers found that interval training is more effective than regular exercise at reducing body fat, according to a study published in 2017.
However, according to research conducted in 2016, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) did not result in any more weight or fat reduction than moderate-intensity continuous exercise.
Run or walk — in any form — will help you achieve your weight reduction #goals, as long as you also pay attention to your diet and general health.
Muscles worked during interval running
Interval running works the majority of the big muscle groups in the lower body, which is beneficial. Interval running is characterized by the involvement of the following muscle groups, according to research based on electrical measures of muscle activation (8Trusted Source):
hamstrings (back thigh muscles)
gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles)
quadriceps (front thigh muscles)
gluteus maximus and medius (hip muscles)
adductors (inner thigh muscles)
anterior tibialis (shin muscles)
These muscles are very identical to those that are engaged during regular running. Interval running, on the other hand, will provide a larger stimulation to these muscle fibers because of the increased amount of time spent at higher intensities.
Is there any danger in doing interval training?
Interval running is a safe and effective activity for the majority of people. However, like with other things we enjoy (such as coffee, sweets, or even jogging), there are hazards associated with it.
Increased impact on ankles, knees, and hips occurs when you run at a faster pace and with increased intensity. As a result, the sprints that are part of HIIT may increase the likelihood of muscle pulls, strains, and tears in the short term.
It is important to remember that frequent jogging comes with its own set of dangers. Stress fractures and overuse injuries are potentially possible side effects.
Follow these important guidelines to avoid problems:
Slow and steady wins the race: Yes, part of interval training entails moving quickly, but those rest periods are necessary for a reason. Mastering a beginner’s regimen before progressing to a more severe one will help you prevent muscular strain, soreness, and injury down the road.
Consult with a professional: A qualified personal trainer can assist you in determining your abilities and goals, as well as in developing an interval training program that is effective for you. Using an elliptical machine or swimming may be a better option for you if you have any injuries or muscle problems. A professional can lead you in the proper route.
If it hurts, stop right there: No matter how many times others tell you that “no pain, no gain,” do not force yourself to continue when your muscles are screaming for help. It is natural to feel sore after an exercise, but experiencing severe pain during a workout should not be the case.
Overall, as compared to traditional jogging, interval running is a safe strategy to enhance cardiovascular health by doing shorter-length exercises more frequently.
Despite this, there are a few hazards associated with interval-training sessions. The increased intensity and impact that happens during the faster-paced intervals is a major contributor to these side effects.
When jogging at a quicker pace, the stress on the ankles, knees, and hips is more severe.
After your first few interval exercises, you will most likely be in a state of extreme soreness. While muscles may adapt to tension very quickly, it takes longer for your joints and bones to adjust to the same amount of stress.
In order to reduce the risk of injury, begin interval running carefully when you first begin. If you are completely new to running, start with 10-minute jogs with a quick sprint at the finish twice a week for four weeks to get your body used to the activity.
If you have previous running experience but have not done interval training, start with the beginner program and consider performing a single cluster for the first few weeks, with at least 2 full days between workouts, before progressing to the intermediate program.
If you do not overwhelm your body with too much stress too soon and make sure you get enough rest, your body will adjust more rapidly.
If you have not exercised in a long time, a brisk walk for the high-intensity phase and a sluggish stroll for the low-intensity interval may be sufficient intensity for the high-intensity interval.
If at all possible, avoid walking on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt in order to decrease the impact. Interval running on a rubberized track, grass, or other softer surfaces is the best option for most people.
Finally, always include an active recovery week in between each four-week period of training. Short jogs or walks will keep your fitness level up while enabling your body to rest and heal in preparation for the next phase of training.
Running and jogging health and safety
Suggestions include the following:
- Make sure you have a nutritious and well-balanced diet.
- If possible, avoid eating minutes before going for a run.
- When running in the summer, avoid doing so during the warmest portion of the day.
- Before, during, and after your run, be sure you drink lots of water.
- You should bring your cell phone with you.
- If you are listening to music through an iPod or headphones, make sure the volume is not too loud – you want to be attentive and aware.
- If you are running in the early morning or at night, make sure you are wearing luminous materials.
- Inform someone of your plans to run and the approximate time you expect to return.
- Whenever possible, use well-lit, crowded roads and avoid risky or remote locations.
- If you get an injury while jogging, you should stop immediately. Seek medical advice if necessary.
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