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More on Interval Training and its Benefits

Last week I posted about my experience with intervals and how they helped me to achieve my half marathon and marathon PR.  Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble and read quite a bit about Emil Zatopek in The Lore of Running and now I am even further convinced of the power of interval training.  Consider this: In 1952 Zatopek won the gold medal in the 5,000m, 10,000m, and the marathon, all within 8 days and all Olympic records.  Oh, and to add to that, he had never run a marathon before in his life and it was a last minute decision to enter the event. His training method? Intervals. He introduced interval training to the running world and this method has become an integral part of every athlete’s training schedule – regardless of ability.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, interval training alternates high intensity work periods with lower intensity rest and recovery periods.

Why you should do it:

  1. It burns fat and increases increases cardiovascular fitness more quickly than moderate exercise
  2. You will be able to exercise longer and/or at a higher intensity because of improved cardiovascular fitness
  3. It spices up your workout so boredom is a nonissue

(Read More)

If you’re new to running and interval training, try this workout:

  • Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy pace
  • Run faster for 1 minute, followed by a 2 minute recovery interval
  • Repeat 4 to 6 times
  • Cool down with a jog for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Stretch!

If you’re more advanced and are training for a 10K – Marathon, try this:

  • Warm up for 10 minutes
  • 2 to 6 mile repeats with 1 -2 minutes recovery between each repeat
  • Mile repeats should be run at half-marathon pace or 30 seconds slower than 5K pace
  • Cool down with a jog for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Stretch!

Interval workouts should only be done 2 times a week at most, and it is important to allow for adequate recovery between workouts (48 hours normally).  You’ll be amazed at how quickly you start to see results.

Today during my interval workout, I kept reciting a quote by Emil Zatopek in my head:
“Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast.”
Too bad learning to run fast has to hurt so much, but I guess it’s all a question of how bad do you want it?

(Emil Zatopek)

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I was stationed with a French outpost here in Afghanistan and they had a very poor gym- broken weights, one or two stationary bikes… pretty bad. I found this site and used bodyweight exercises combined with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) methods and got great results with it: http://fitnessblackbook.com/best-of-fitness-black-book/ . Very similar to what you describe in your regimen. Being stuck there was what I would imagine prison is like- without the unwanted physical contact. My workout routine was something to keep me sane and improve myself physically. The wife was happy with the results when I got home for leave!

    December 24, 2011

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  1. Interval Training – Embrace the Pain « Run Inspired.

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