To the runners, joggers, and walkers who want to be runners that feel like you aren’t getting any faster or better at running:
Try to vary your routine with interval runs!
This can look different, but the basics of interval training are:
These fast intervals where you push yourself faster than you would normally run will put stress on your cardiovascular system (stress is good, unless you have cardiovascular/pulmonary disease or doctor’s recommendations not to exercise). These fast intervals will cause adaptation as your body “rises to the occasion”. Your heart will work harder to get oxygen to your muscles, which causes adaptations over time like your heart size increasing, being able to fill with more blood, and pump harder when your exercise to deliver oxygen to your muscles faster. (Increased stroke volume—the amount of blood your heart pumps out with each beat). Your muscles will become more efficient at using energy, and they’ll become stronger as you run faster than before.
Sometimes it takes a change in routine to elicit change in your results!
So practically, what would interval training look like for you? How should you program your interval runs?
For the experienced runner:
How fast do you normally run? 8:30 minute miles? Try 0.25 miles at a 7-minute pace, then rest for two minutes, then repeat.
There’s no magic number to interval training, maybe you can only do a 8-minute pace. The goal is to be pushing yourself harder than normal. With time your body will adapt and these short intervals will be sustainable for longer amounts of time/miles.
For the beginner runner who stops to walk often:
How far do you normally go before stopping to walk? (in minutes or in miles)
You want your interval to be SHORTER than this. If you normally make it 1 mile before walking or becoming exhausted, try a .25 mile or .5 mile fast interval. After the first interval, break to walk or stop and catch your breath for 2-4 minutes, so your body can recover enough to push yourself in the next interval. Repeat several intervals for a 15 to 30 minute workout.
Another example: If you normally can run for 4 minutes before having to stop, try 2-minute fast intervals, followed by 2 minutes of walking or resting. Repeat this interval+rest 4 times (or more!)
Interval training is very effective way to get faster and more efficient (or to get your workout in quicker!) There are LOTS of ways to do interval training. Try out longer and shorter intervals.
Varying your workout is beneficial for your performance and your health!
Remember, warm-up with a walk or jog before you run hard, and always put safety first when considering how hard to push. Ask your doctor if you aren’t sure.
Lisa Bartz, CEP
Steve Bartz, PT