Slow easy paced runs are designed to improve your base endurance, tempo running is designed to improve your lactate threshold endurance, intervals are designed to improve your VO2 max. In basic terms it means the ability of your body to transport oxygen to your muscles. It’s regarded as the best way to measure your cardiovascular fitness. Intervals test your body’s ability to run at a high level of intensity. Many runners run intervals at their 5 k pace, as that pace forces runners to run at maximum aerobic capacity. There is no limit to the type of interval workouts but the main idea to run at maximum capacity usually for short periods of time. There is probably little point in running for more than 3 minutes at a time otherwise you will go into oxygen debt, essentially a fancy way of saying you will get cramped/ sick/ recover too slow to allow adaptation to take place.

A classic type of workout performed by running club’s is a 20 minute warmup, 2 minutes hard running, 1 minute recovery (X 6 -10 times) , 15 minute cooldown. Beginners are better to start at the low end of the repeat range.- say 6 one minute repeats with maybe 1 to 2 minutes recovery. Add a new interval every week or every second week. If using a running track you can dispense with using a interval by time and use a interval by distance, perhaps 200 metres to 400 metres. Consult the training section of the Mallow AC website to see the kind of interval speedwork that is prescribed by the club.

The fitness benefits of interval training are obvious. All sports use interval training as a essential part of their training. It trains sports people to perform at high intensity, recover and restart the intensity again. Soccer/Gaelic games/Hockey/Basketball/ Rowing are examples of sport’s where interval training is vital to continued success. Intervals are useful way to perform a workout where there might be constraints on your time . Intervals can be performed in a small park, a quiet stretch of road, a small trail or even a hill. Tempos and long runs involve a lot more time, physical space and planning. Intervals only require a small amount of space.

In terms of racing intervals are vital to success in races over distances from 5k to 10k. These are all out races where you will race nothing less than 100%. Intervals allow your body to maximise oxygen uptake in your muscles. If you combine long runs, intervals and tempos into your training plan along with easy running you are doing very well. Beginners would do best to remember to always maintain a good solid base of easy running before undertaking rigorous speed work.


Article credit to Cathal Daly