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Everything You Need to Know About Interval Running in One Article

If you are a runner, you may have heard of the term “interval running”. Used correctly, it is a great tool for improving your running speed.
Where did the interval training method come from? What are the ways and means? How should we adapt our own goal setting training?

The origin of interval running?

The traditional interval running training method originated in Germany in the 1930s. At that time, great emphasis was placed on the planning of training courses and the control of work and rest time. Interval running training mode refers to running a specific distance repeatedly within a specified time, and jogging for a fixed time between runs .

For example,
an athlete whose 1500-meter time is 3 minutes and 40 seconds can run 400 meters 8 times (57 to 58 seconds each time), with a 3-minute jog of 300 meters in between.

The famous Czech long-distance runner Emil Zatopek (gold medalist in the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and marathon at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics) once performed 20 times of 200 meters, 40 times of 400 meters, and 20 times of 200 meters in a training session. Interval training.

At that time, training heart rate had been used as an important evaluation data for coaches to measure training intensity and recovery.

The traditional interval training method mostly uses 100 meters, 200 meters, 300 meters and 400 meters as running distances, and requires the athlete’s heart rate to reach 180 beats per minute after each run, and before the next run, the heart rate should Back down to about 120 beats per minute. It is also recommended that 800-meter athletes can use 100 meters, 200 meters and 300 meters as fast running distances; 1500-meter athletes can add 400 meters; 5000-meter and 10000-meter athletes can use 200 meters, 400 meters. and 600 meters as the distance during fast running.

Until 1993, mainstream sports scientists believed that when planning interval training sessions, one should first consider the energy supply system of the main exercise program, and then choose the appropriate exercise mode.

The intensity of training and the work-rest ratio (ie, work-rest ratio) should be determined according to the main energy supply system to be exercised.

For example:
sprinters should focus on interval running training with short distance, high intensity and fast speed, and the rest time can be slightly longer. (Anaerobic)
Marathon long-distance runners can do interval running of about 5km at a speed close to the competition. (Aerobic)

To judge whether the intensity of training is appropriate, it is recommended that high school and college age athletes should have a target heart rate of 85% to 95% of their maximum heart rate. Research at that time also supported that the heart rate during training must reach 150 beats per minute or above to achieve significant training effects.

According to past research, interval training between 2 and 5 minutes with a roughly equal work-rest ratio (i.e. 1:1) can best improve the function of the aerobic system. In addition, interval training with short activity time (for example: 15 seconds) and a work-rest ratio of 1:1 can also effectively improve the aerobic system.
On the other hand, to effectively exercise the function of the anaerobic system, the time should not exceed 90 seconds, otherwise the body will gradually use the aerobic system to continue to maintain activities. Some studies have found that exercises designed primarily to strengthen the aerobic system can also be helpful for intermittent strenuous activity.

Interval training has also been applied to more sports, such as swimming, cycling, rowing, etc., but the training mode is not just running, but interval training corresponding to its sports mode.

*The above data and information are from the Hong Kong Physical Education Network

Interval running, simply put, means running different distances, but with a period of rest interspersed between the two runs, hence the name interval. Common control elements include: distance, training intensity, rest method and time, number of sets and pace changes, etc. Different from the general perception, interval running can not only improve our speed and anaerobic capacity, but can also be used to exercise special aerobic or general endurance training, depending on how we use it.

Common workouts for interval running

Now the distance breakdown of interval running can be set from 50 m to 1000 m, and some even reach 5000m. Pairing it with different paces, rests, and terrain will produce different results. Here is a brief introduction to the more commonly used methods.

● Stride Run

After a long jog, add a set of stride runs of 50 m to 100 m.

In terms of time, it’s about 15 to 20 seconds. Using primarily 70% to -80% of your muscle strength, swing your arms and keep your back straight to increase the speed and distance of each step. Do this for 4 to 6 sets. The primary purpose of stride running is to activate muscles and eliminate the side effects of chronic muscle stagnation. Repeat several times a week.

● Short interval running (200m to 400m)

These short, fast intervals will help us increase our speed.

Under normal circumstances, the pace should be maintained at about 3 kilometers to 5 kilometers, take enough rest, fully stretch your hips, and learn the posture and rhythm of fast running. It is also a way to enhance muscle strength development because it increases nerve and muscle activation when performing high-speed interval running.

● Mid-distance interval running (600-1000m)

Mid-distance interval running should be performed at an intensity of about 5 kilometers.

This physically improves speed endurance and the ability to resist muscle soreness at high speeds. Mainly useful when the jogging time between sets is approximately the same as the running time of the main training program (for example, 800 m in 3 minutes, followed by a jogging break of about 3 minutes in the middle).
If you perform under such conditions, you will feel tired. If you’re unable to perform your workout as planned because of pain, it’s probably too intense. Needs further fine-tuning.
These workouts are set before the entire marathon training cycle: 1. First establish good speed tolerance, so that the final pace is relatively relaxed and allow the body to adapt; 2. This type of training can guide your body to use sugar Original. This affects fat utilization to a greater or lesser extent at the end of the cycle.

● Mountain interval running (200m-1000m)

This is the same as on ordinary flat roads. When running on an incline, more muscle groups are used. The generally recommended slope is around 4%-6%. If the incline is too steep, muscle groups will quickly become exhausted. Also, try not to base your runs on flat road pace. Otherwise, premature failure is more likely.

In terms of training mode, it can be divided into:

● Aerobic interval running

This type of interval running mainly runs at a relatively fast speed, which causes the body to generate aerobic pressure and strengthens the body’s tolerance and efficiency of lactic acid production. The main operation method is to keep the interval distance short. The rest time within a group should not be too long, but the rest time between groups can be extended. The interval distance is generally kept below 600m. This training method is very suitable for middle-distance runners of 800 meters to 1500 meters and runners with mainly fast-twitch muscles. Helpful because their events require running at a specialized but extremely aerobic pace while forcing the body to use lactic acid as a source of energy in the later stages.
For example:
800m runners: 2 x (8 x 100m), 1 mile pace, 30s rest between sets, 5 minutes between sets
5000-10000m runners: 6 x (400m + 200m), 3km pace , jog 200 meters after each run.

● Repeated running on slopes.

Using slopes as a venue for interval running can change the way we use muscles, allowing the body to learn and get used to using more muscles. Therefore, the choice of slope is very important. The steeper the slope, the greater the requirement for muscle strength, while the gentle slope can be used for speed training.
Interval running on long slopes (above 400 meters) is very helpful for improving muscle endurance, while intervals on slopes with shorter distance but faster speed (below 400 meters) can effectively improve speed or specific endurance. Finally, hill intervals can be used as a transition to speed training, or to delay the arrival of peak performance.

● Staggered training.

Staggered training is mainly repeated running at fast and slower speeds. Variable speed running is a type of staggered training. There are many changes in this type of training and can be used in marathon pace or even short-distance training of 400m.
The main focus of this type of training is on the slower part, and it is not like the recovery running between the normal interval groups. This type of jogging can be called stable running, and the main purpose is to prevent the body from completely recovering. , forcing the body to learn to increase the utilization rate of lactic acid. At the beginning, it is recommended that the distance of the slower speed link is longer, and gradually change the proportion and speed as the training progresses.
The pace during recovery will affect lactic acid. If the pace is slow, the body will use lactic acid during recovery; if the pace is close to the lactate threshold, it will teach the body how to deal with a high lactic acid state, but this method is very taxing on the body. , the total distance cannot be too long.
The arrangement of staggered training in the cycle can be arranged at the end of the marathon basic period.
For example: perform an 800-meter lactate threshold pace/800-meter steady run for a total of 6-7 groups as an introduction to the subsequent special training.

● Mixed training,

as the name suggests, is a method that mixes two or more trainings of different intensities and is consistent with each other. Most class schedules are focused on a single event and do not integrate multiple training methods. Mixed training has this effect and is very suitable for use in the transition period.
In hybrid training, our muscle fiber recruitment and lactate concentration are constantly changing during training, simulating the varying stresses of competition during training. Usually mixed training consists of long and short distance training.
For example:
1000 meters + 400 meters + 900 meters + 300 meters + 800 meters + 200 meters. Use the 5-kilometer pace for the longer part and the 3-kilometer pace for the shorter part.

Generally speaking, this type of training, whether short or long distance, starts at a slower pace and then slowly increases the speed, initially to recruit muscle fibers and then to exercise the endurance of those muscle fibers.

Build your race-specific speed through interval training

When preparing for a race, the target finishing speed is your special pace. It can be 5 kilometers pace or marathon pace. Interval running is also one of the effective ways to develop your special speed.

In addition to the above different intermittent methods, there are also slight differences in the development of specific endurance for runners with different muscle group types. Runners who mainly rely on slow-twitch muscles rely on the aerobic system for energy and can recover through jogging between runs. Fast-twitch runners rely more on the anaerobic system for energy, so standing and resting in place will be more effective.

When setting up your training schedule, you must consider your actual situation and don’t just follow your mood.
In terms of developing specific speed, in addition to the staggered training and mixed training introduced previously, two intermittent operations focusing on different muscle groups will be introduced next :

● Bottom Up Interval Running (Bottom Up Method)

The pace is always the same . Start with short-distance interval running. The rest time is short. You can do it in groups at the beginning. The total running volume is the same from beginning to end. If you want to increase the intensity, you can gradually lengthen the distance of a single interval running. However, the number of sets is reduced, and this type of operation mode is more suitable for runners who mainly use fast-twitch muscles. The following is an example of the arrangement for 5000 meters:

5K pace 3 x (4 x 400m), 30 seconds rest between sets, 5 minutes rest between sets5K pace 2 x (4 x 600m), 40 seconds rest between sets, 5 minutes rest between sets5K pace 2 x (3 x 800 meters), rest 45 seconds between sets, rest 5 minutes between sets at5km pace 2 x (1000+800+600 meters), rest 45 seconds between sets, rest 5 minutes between sets at5km pace 5 x 1000 meters, rest 120 seconds between sets

● The main idea of ​​training methods such as the Top-Down Method

is: the distance remains unchanged, but the speed is increased, or the speed during rest is adjusted . The training starts at the pace of the current strength, until later it speeds up to Competition-specific speed, this type of training method is aerobic training in the early stage, and then turns to endurance training in the later stage. Runners who mainly use slow-twitch muscles can try this. Assuming that it is also arranged for 5000 meters, If a runner’s original level is 18:45 (average speed 3:45/km, converted to 90 seconds for a 400-meter lap on the playground), he wants to improve to 17:30 (average speed 3:30/km, a 400-meter lap on the playground) Running 84s), the arrangement example is as follows:

12 x 400m, one lap of 90s, 40s rest12 x 400m, one lap of 88s, 60s rest12 x 400m, one lap of 86s, 70s rest3 x (4 x 400m), one lap Run 84 seconds, rest 60 seconds, rest 3 minutes between sets of12 x 400 meters, run one lap 84 seconds, rest 80 seconds12 x 400 meters, run one lap 84 seconds, rest 60 seconds

If you are a Garmin user, the watch also supports the [interval running] function. After selecting to enter the running mode, press the up key to enter training-quick training-interval training. After selecting interval training, it is subdivided into: [ Free repetitions] and [Structured repetitions], you can set them directly on the watch according to your needs.

You can also customize the number of sets, distance, rest time, etc. of interval training in Garmin Connect, and then add the training to the watch. Then when the watch selects the training mode, it will automatically remind you according to the settings. Every time you run, you run too fast or run too fast. If it is slow, it will remind you through a vibrating warning.

Interval running can be very simple, or it can be very complex, which adds extra points to the richness of training. If you feel bored when running a regular class schedule, you might as well make some changes to the content to make the training process more interesting. However, there is a core idea that must be remembered. Interval running is only one part of many different trainings, and it should not be the main body of training . Don’t overdo it. Finally, I wish you all the best in the coming seasons. There can be a rich harvest!