In Interval Training, you combine a short, 1 minute burst of high intensity exercise followed by a 4 minute recovery period of low to moderate intensity. You string together these 5 minute cycles, or intervals, and end up with a very intense exercise regimen with amazing consequences. Also called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), a 30 min interval training is the quickest way to lose weight, get physically fit and enhance your running speed.
Benefits of Interval Training:
- Burn Fat Faster: The combination of slow and fast running increases your metabolic rate, causing you to burn more calories. And your metabolic rate stays higher long after the workout, resulting in continued fat burn and effective weight loss.
- Engage Fast-twitch fibers: The sprint component helps to functionally isolate and train the ‘fast-twitch’ muscle fibers in the legs. Thus your legs learn to turn-over faster, resulting in higher running speeds.
- Increase Lactate Threshold: When you run, accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles is what tires you. While sprinting intensely for short bursts of time, lactic acid accumulates faster than can be cleared and reaches the “lactate threshold.” Beyond this point muscle fatigue forces you to stop.But push for a full minute, then slow to a moderate pace during recovery. This trains your muscles to clear lactic acid faster and also forces muscle mitochondria to metabolize lactic acid under anaerobic conditions. Thus lactic acid levels plateau as you continue running, effectively increasing your lactate threshold.
- Build Endurance: By constantly bumping against and raising the lactate threshold, your body learns to clear and/or metabolize lactic acid efficiently. This gives you an increased capacity to run further without fatigue. Thus building endurance to go longer distances.
- Increase Speed: Two reasons converge here. First, because you trained ‘fast-twitch’ muscle fibers, you can run faster. Second, because you now have a higher lactate threshold, you can run further, always staying under the fatigue threshold. Together, you increase your overall running speed AND run further without getting tired (relatively).
Julie Schlenkerman, certified physical trainer and good friend, kindly agreed to model and guide my interval training. She also ran the 2009 Boston Marathon in a blazing, 3:16:14! I immediately anointed her Running Devi (Goddess) and asked her to train, coach and nag me for my upcoming NYC Marathon!
Getting Started for Running Intervals:
- Some treadmill have arrows to increase or decrease the speed – not ideal. Find a treadmill which has a number pad to punch in the speed and ENTER.
- Plan a 30 min Interval Training. Consider the 30 min as 6 separate intervals of 5 min each.
- Warm up during first interval (0-5 min) at a comfortable speed. Cool down during the 6th Interval (25-30 min).
- Only during the middle 4 intervals, you sprint for 1 min in each interval. Easy, right?
- Pick a warm-up and cool down speed, which is comfortable and you could easily run at for 30 min. For beginners, this may a walking speed. For my example below, I pick 6 mph setting on the treadmill.
- Pick a Sprint speed which you can run for 1 minute. For beginners who are starting with walks, this could be a slow jog. I pick a fast run of 8.0 mph on the treadmill.
- Set treadmill incline to 1% (0.01).
Get Set, Go!
- Interval I: (0-5 minutes)
Warm up: 6.0 mph
- Interval II: (5-10 minutes)
Sprint 1 minute: 8.0 mph (push yourself to complete 1 min)
Recovery 4 minutes: 6.0 mph (catch your breath and prepare for the next interval)
- Interval III, Interval IV and Interval V.
Repeat Interval II; Adjust your sprint or recovery speeds based on how you felt.
- Interval VI: (25-30 minutes)
Cool down: 6.0 mph
- Hydrate, Stretch, Rest! Drink enough water during and after the run. Stretch well. I recommend doing Intervals only once a week, allowing your muscles to recover.
- Life is Beautiful! Run farther! Live Well!
See my other Distance-Running Related Posts:
- Tough Mile 1
- Tips for Running on Snow and Ice
- 11 Essential things to do before a long run
- Boston Marathon 2007
- Hyannis Half Marathon
- Marine Corps Marathon 2008