"The only way you'll run faster is by running faster!" Interval sessions explained by our running Coach, Dave Taylor.
It’s an inescapable fact of life, that the only way you’ll run faster is by running faster!
Luckily you can achieve this in manageable, bite-size chunks.
Basically, the objective of an interval/speed work session is to complete a series of runs at a pace above what you are used to running, with recoveries in between.
For instance, if you were trying to improve your Parkrun performance you could start with running a number (say 5) of 400m efforts at a speed faster than your usual 5k pace, with a 100m jog recovery in between. Week by week you could up the pace a whisker. Personally, I would leave the recovery jog as it is as you progress because changing one variable is quite enough – change more and you risk putting too much strain on your body and risk injury.
We call them INTERVAL sessions because between the efforts we get a bit of a recovery – for an interval – get it?
Interval sessions, as well as improving your speed, are a great cardio workout and will also build some mental discipline, as you work to push out your boundaries and say goodbye to plodding along at a one-speed-fits-all pace.
It’s vital to warm up/down properly so allow ten minutes for each. Take it nice and easy, incorporating some dynamic stretches into your warm-up if you can, to get those joints loosened and always finish your cool down with some static stretches.
You are going to complete a set number of reps, which will be at a specific level of intensity; for a set length of time or distance. Then between them is a set recovery interval.
Lots to play with there!
By way of an example here’s a fantastic interval session I’m currently completing on Chester Millennium Greenway, which we have used for our monthly Training Runs for the MBNA Chester Marathon and Metric Marathon as well as the Essar Chester Half Marathon. A length of tarmac like this is ideal for speed sessions, as you are well away from roads and traffic.
You’ll need a watch (sports, stopwatch or regular) to keep track of what you are doing. If using a sports watch, a download onto your favourite app will give you hours of fun analysing what you’ve done and where you can improve.
My most recently planned session consists of a 10 minute warm up then 8 x 2 minute runs – at a very hard pace – with a 60 seconds easy walk recovery. Notice that the effort is measured subjectively i.e. how I feel, rather than at a set pace e.g. 7.45 min per mile pace. Then, with my legs well and truly cabbaged I am meant to complete 10 mins running at 10K race pace, with the remaining 10 minutes of the session my warm down.
You will also notice the session is worked in time rather than distance. It’s just another way of approaching it. Plan your session in time or distance, whichever you feel will work best for you.
Intervals are hard work and there will be times when the fast bits feel like you are hardly moving faster than a jog through treacle but when you feel like that, you’re probably doing better than you think.
So why not find a suitable route and give it a go? Your PB will thank you for it and it feels so good when another interval session is under your belt.
And, as I say as I coach, anything that takes you out of your comfort zone is having a training effect!
Never miss our training runs or special offers!
The route is renowned for being fast and largely flat – more than 70% of our runners achieve PBs!
Marius Ionescu in 2014
Julie Briscoe in 2013
2019 Marathon Results
|1st||Tom Charles (Trafford AC)||2:29:29|
|2nd||Tristan Windley (Keswick AC)||2:29:36|
|1st||Abbey van Dijk||3:01:51|
|2nd||Johanna Sutcliffe (Halifax Harriers & AC)||3:04:59|
|3rd||Camilla Hermsen (Harpenden Arrows)||3:05:11|
As with all such events, our events would not be possible without the help of a huge team of volunteers.Find out more.