by Steve Sisson
Interval training refers to repeats of varying distances at a specified pace with a short recovery. The goal is to make your goal race pace more comfortable & efficient. Interval training is the most effective method of determining an athlete’s current fitness & obtaining the fitness to handle your goal pace for your race. This type of training is demanding but it is not all out running. The harm in running too fast is that no better results are obtained & the excessive pace will probably leave you overstressed for the next quality training session. The focus initially is increasing your ability to handle the pace you are currently racing at (Date Pace) & subsequently switching over to a faster pace (Goal Pace) to enable your body to handle running the new pace in the races.
Date Pace Intervals: This type of interval refers to the pace you can currently hold for a 5 or 10K race. By training at this pace your body quickly begins to adapt to handling the pace very easily. You will continue with Date Pace work for at least 6 weeks before you start to switch to Goal Pace work.
Goal Pace Intervals: The principle behind goal pace intervals is the same as date pace intervals. The only difference is the pace at which you cover the prescribed distance. This type of interval refers to the the pace you want run for a 5 or 10K race. The transition between date pace & goal pace intervals should occur only when the longer intervals are easy at date pace, & then the runner should attempt the shorter intervals & graduate to the longer intervals. This running is essential to recruiting the muscles to work comfortable at the pace desired. Goal Pace workouts are continued throughout the runner's training up to the race.
The types of interval workouts are endless in variety. The most important aspect is to have the total distance equal the distance of your race. The longer that you are able to sustain your pace the greater your body’s adaptation. The table below provides a basic outline of the progression interval distances & recovery periods. Remember that some runners may need to add more rest depending upon the place they are in their training or depending upon thir age.
Table Coming Soon
It is important to note that for 10K workouts there is no need to go further than 4-5miles worth of distance, as the load can be too great & raises the risk of injury. There is also the issue of staying mentally fresh. It is much easier to do these workouts, or a portion of them, on a soft surface like grass . You should only endeavor to complete one 10K per six weeks.
Speed Intervals: Speed intervals are used to help increase leg turnover, to allow the goal pace to feel easier, & to generally increase speed. These are done at a sub-maximum level & must be carefully implemented. As a general rule, if you increase the speed you must shorten the interval distance & increase the recovery time. The frequency of these workouts should increase as you approach your goal race but still be included soon after the base phase of training.