Interval Training for Runners

I posted this on my work blog, but I think it’s important for everyone to read so I’m reposting here.

This is true for all levels of runners and everyone can benefit!

I wanted to take a moment to shed some light on why I utilize interval training for our No Boundaries beginner 5k program.

When it comes to running, I’ve yielded the greatest results utilizing full sprint and recover intervals. This means that during “work” intervals, runners are running hard enough that talking becomes somewhat uncomfortable and breathing become quite heavy. When the time comes for recovery, the runners must recover FULLY. That is, they can now comfortably speak to others around them and breathing has slowed. In the beginner’s program, work intervals are kept shorter to ensure new runners are running as hard as they can, and then actually recovering fully. I’ve found that many new runners tend to be a bit overzealous and don’t properly utilize the recovery, which can result in fatigue, exhaustion or injury.

Over time, this kind of interval training increases both VT1 and VT2, which improves overall endurance.

VT1 is called the First Ventilatory Threshold. It is a marker of intensity that can be heard in a person’s breathing at a point where lactate begins to accumulate in the blood. As the intensity of the exercise begins to increase, VT1 can be identified at the point where the breathing rate begins to increase. A person who is at VT1 can no longer talk comfortably while exercising.

VT2 is called the Second Ventilatory Threshold. It is a higher marker of intensity that can also be heard in the person’s breathing. At VT2, the lactate has quickly accumulated in the blood and the person needs to breath heavily and can no longer speak at this intensity. At this point, the exercise duration will also decrease due to the intensity level. This marker can also be called the anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold. – ACE Fitness

Therefore, people whose goals include increasing endurance (completing a 5k without stopping) have a greater chance of success by incorporating intervals into their training.

Another benefit of interval training is calorie burn, specifically fat calories. During the “work” intervals, runners are revving the metabolism, utilizing anaerobic levels of carbohydrate stored in the body.  Once these carbohydrate levels are depleted, however, and the body burns fat as a fuel source during the recovery intervals. So, people who have goals of losing weight as part of their running training will also have a greater chance of success.

Interval Training may seem a bit tedious at first, but as you continue to push yourself as hard as you can during “work” intervals, and making sure you fully recover during the “rest” intervals, you will start to see results both in your race time and your waistline.

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