Why Do Workouts? The Importance of Speedwork

17 07 2014

Imagine lying on the couch in a late-night potato chip induced haze as you grudgingly navigate the 550 channels that mischievously provide no entertainment.  Realizing that it is well past bedtime, you decide to give one more channel a shot.  The screen suddenly comes to life with the promise of turning you into a healthier, more efficient, and FASTER runner!  This all seems too good to be true.  What do I have to do?  Who doesn’t want that?  Is it a pill?  Is it a DVD?  Maybe it’s a cream or some super-diet.  The anticipation mounts as the voice from the television reveals the age-old secret to all that has been promised and more… INTERVALS!  That’s right!  Good old-fashioned hard work!

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Not every run should be about longer distance and mileage. Sometimes, shorter, intense workouts or intervals can be just what your training plan needs to increase your speed and improve your running.

Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

From elite athletes to beginners, every runner can benefit from interval training. Shorter workouts are easier to fit in a busy schedule—think during your lunch break or during a week when work is slammed. High intensity workouts can also help burn fat more quickly—the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyper drive. That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hour period following a high intensity workout than you do after, for instance, a steady-pace run. Plus, high intensity interval increases your metabolism!

Intervals Explained

Although most interval training is done on a track, with a watch or smartphone to track your distance and pace, you can do interval training just about anywhere including the treadmill!

So, what exactly are intervals? Intervals are repetitions of high-speed/intensity running followed by periods of rest or recovery. For example:

8×400 with 200 meters of recovery

In this case, you would run 400 meters at a high intensity pace, jog or walk for 200 meters, and then repeat 8 times.

When planning interval workouts, it’s important to design your training based on your goal race. For instance, if you are training for a marathon or half marathon, you should do longer, slower intervals; whereas, if you’re training for a 5k, you should do shorter, quicker speed intervals.

5K Workout: 

1-2 mile warmup

6×400 meters with 200 meters of recovery

4×200 meters with 200 meters of recovery

1-2 mile cool down

Marathon Workout:

1-2 mile warmup

4×1 mile with 400 meters of recovery

1-2 mile cool down

While the length of the intervals is important, it’s equally as critical to train at the appropriate pace. There are many calculators you can use to determine pace based on a recent race time or time trial, including the widely-popular McMillan Running Pace Calculator (mcmillanrunning.com).

Intervals are an excellent way to add excitement to your training routine and enjoy the benefits of becoming a healthier, more efficient runner.

 Want to get started doing some workouts? Join Fleet Feet for FREE interval training workouts! Meet at Fleet Feet every Thursday at 6pm. Check out the Facebook group here or e-mail lovetorun@fleetfeetmemphis.com.

 


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