Track Intervals for Runners

Track Intervals for Runners

Running track intervals are extremely beneficial to runners. Interval training teaches the body how to run fast and the mind how to run through pain. These workouts are essential in developing the kind of leg turnover needed to race well. Here are a few pointers about track intervals.

Track intervals are essentially hill repeats on the track wherein you alternate fast repeats with rest periods. One day you might do a 8 X 200 workout with 2 minutes rest. This translates into doing 8 repeats of 200 meters (half a lap) with 2 minutes of rest in between each interval. Or you could do 12 X 400, which is 12 repeats of 400 meters (a full lap).

Common Types Of Interval Workouts:

Here are some bread and butter interval workouts for runners training for a 5k race. Keep in mind that your mileage for an interval workout should not greatly exceed your race distance.

14-16 X 200 meters
8-12 X 400 meters
6-8 X 800 meters
4-6 X 1000 meters
3-4 X 1 mile repeats

It is a good idea to mix up the interval distances during workouts to focus both on speed and endurance. This type of workout is called a “ladder.” A simple ladder workout for a 5k race would be: 400, 800, 1000, 1600, 600, 400, 200. The mileage for this workout is exactly 5k and it includes intervals that will work on a runner’s raw speed (200 and 400’s) and endurance (800 and above).

Resting In Between Repeats

The common wisdom is to rest two times as long as it takes to run the repeat. So if run a 400 in 70 seconds, rest 2 minutes 20 seconds. Now, “rest” does not mean you should stop moving! At least walk around. For a real challenge, try to jog in between each repeat. The workout will be more productive if you can make an interval workout a continuous run. This will make the workout much more difficult, but it will simulate what it feels like to run a race.

How Fast To Run Intervals

This really varies with age and talent. Generally, 1 mile intervals should average 10k race pace, 800 meter intervals should average 5k race pace, 400 meter intervals should be between 5k and mile race pace and 300 and 200 meter intervals should be run faster than mile race pace. Note that interval training should only be attempted after developing a fairly large base of fitness. You should run at least a month of quality base training (at least 20 miles a week) before attempting any interval training.


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