Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I’m completely for distance running as a form of getting into excellent shape.

OK I’m totally kidding. Running long distance, especially without a plan or a good nutrition strategy, is good for aging you, turning joints that are supposed to last for 115 years useless, and for a plethora of other injuries. People who run just to run often train until they get hurt, recoup a little bit (if at all), go back out there and re-injure themselves.  This becomes a viscous cycle.

Not all forms of running/cardio are bad or boring though. Running/Training efficiently will prepare you for upcoming events. The key is making a goal and understanding what training needs to be done to achieve it.

Enter Interval Training

Beginners and people who typically don’t know any better think that the way to get faster times is by attempting to run the same distance over and over again or by increasing the distance. For example, running six miles to prepare for a 5K. Trust me I’ve done this, the results are usually marginal at best. Maybe a few seconds here–best case scenario, save a minute or two.

When running an event such as a marathon or even an obstacle race, interval training is the ticket to faster times, more strength, power, and increased oxygen consumption (think of being able to run consistently fast without gasping for air). If you want to be fast, you need to train fast. It prepares your body to move quickly. Believe it or not, interval training develops aerobic capacity better than aerobic training.I could get really science-y with you on the “why”, but I don’t want to bore anyone.  If you want to know more about the “why”, read this

Interval training also produces better body composition changes than long slow distance running. Reference the photo of a marathon runner and sprinter above. Although they are at the extreme end of the spectrum, it still holds true. Long distance only runners always look more frail and weaker compared to sprinters and people who lift weights.

Interval Training Ideas For Fat Loss

Here is a could place to apply Charles Staley’s “180 Principle”. Walk into any gym and do the OPPOSITE of what everyone is doing, which is gliding away on an elliptical, walking and reading on the treadmill, and biking while watching TV. People will almost always do whats easier and more fun as opposed to what’s needed and what’s best for their body/health.

Your workouts don’t need to be one to two hours long. I am not saying, you shouldn’t use the treadmill, bike, row, or use the stair machine. I am saying if you can read a book or concentrate on a TV show, you probably aren’t putting forth the maximum effort you need to make these machines effective. In the order of efficiency I would personally place it: row, run, stair climb, then bike. In a row you use the muscles in your entire body. Running uses most muscles. Stair climbing uses mostly just the lower half of your body (It gets more intense if you don’t hold onto the rails. HINT: don’t hold onto the rails), and biking only uses your lower half and is the easiest of the four.

Interval Training Idea One. 15 seconds of work 45 seconds of rest. During that 15 seconds you want to be going all out, if you hit that 45 second rest like “that’s it?”, then you’re not doing it right.

Interval Training Idea Two. 30 seconds work, one minute of rest. You’ll notice here that if you going all out, around the 10-15 second mark you’ll start to slow down a little bit. You still want to go HAM, but not to the point where you’re down to about 15% effort because you killed yourself.

Interval Training Idea Three. One minute of work, 2-3 minutes of rest. This starts to border onto fat loss and speed goals for events. You still want great effort with these intervals, but you will not be able to give the same that you did for the 15-30 second effort. Pace yourself in a way where it’s still faster than your normal pace. If you have not yet established a “normal pace”, just go hard for that minute.

Interval Training Idea Four. 2-3 minutes of work, 2-3 minutes of rest. For running, this is normally about the time it takes to run a lap on a track. I go into greater detail in the interval training ideas for running below.

Interval Training For Running Distance

For the purpose of this blog, I’m using a sub two-hour half marathon goal of 1:50 minutes as the training goal (8:24 per mile or 7.15 MPH). If you are training pr plan to train for a race like this, the most important thing you can possibly own is a GPS watch. I cannot stress enough how imperative it is to own one unless your goal is to just cross the finish line and that’s it.

Easy Runs.  These should be done at approximately 9:45 minute miles. I like these especially the day after a long run to flush your legs out.

Interval Runs. These should be done at approximately 7:20 minute miles. They will be short distance runs of about a quarter to half mile distances especially in the beginning. My “go-to” workouts for interval runs are eight single laps around a track, resting two minutes between each lap. When that becomes manageable, I start doing two laps (half mile) 10 times total, resting three minutes between each set. I do these once a week.

Tempo Runs. This is a hard, but controlled run. Approximately 8:08 minute miles, which is just a tad bit faster than your goal pace. Personally once I get closer to race day I replace interval runs with the tempo run.

My personal favorite workout for race of 10Kto a half marathon distance goes as follows: two miles Easy Run, three miles Tempo Run, one mile Easy Run, three miles Tempo Run, two miles Easy Run. That totals 11 miles.

Try these ideas out and let me know how you do. On race day, follow your pace goal to the letter and you will be fine.

I post different speed workouts and interval ideas often from my Facebook page. Check it out and like my page for more ideas, training thoughts and words of wisdom. Mike Patota – Fitness Trainer.