Interval Training For Half Marathon Runners

One method of increasing half marathon speed is doing interval training. Although intervals are great if you want to run faster at your next half marathon, they have to be used with a certain amount of caution.

Doing short bursts of really hard exercise can place huge pressure on your muscles and joints. Your body will suffer an injury of you have not properly prepared it.

This was demonstrated perfectly on a recent sports program on TV. The presenter wanted to test the claim that repeating 30 second sprints, six or eight times in a total of 10 or 15 minutes total exercise per day, three days a week is enough to show significant health benefits. What happened? Within the first 10 seconds of the first sprint he had pulled a muscle in his leg. Trying very high intensity work is great, but only if you are strong enough to take them. And the only way to get strong enough is to build up steadily.

Interval Training Technique To Done When On The Run

One of the best forms of intervals for half marathon runners is the called the ‘Fartlek’. It’s a rather informal way of adding hard bursts of running into your normal routine. Basically, after you have been running for a while, maybe 10 minutes, you set yourself a target. Maybe ‘I’m going to run flat out for the next 30 seconds’, or ‘I’m going to run as fast as I can to that lamppost’. Then you just go for it. When you reach the target, back off to a slow jog (or even walk) until you’ve regained you breath, then back up to normal speed. Further on add a second short sprint, then rest, then another. The first time you try this I doubt if you will be able to do a fourth!

The advantages of this kind of interval are that it ensures that you are completely warmed up before you start pushing the boundaries and the fact that you are already in the middle of a 30 minute run suggests that your body has had sufficient training to avoid pulling a muscle in the first 10 seconds. Don’t think that it’s a breeze though. On paper it may sound easy, but in practice it is really physically demanding. And if something starts to hurt STOP! And at the end, make sure that you jog slowly for the last 10 minutes of your run, to give you a good ‘warm down’ after your exertions.

Don’t try and do intervals every time you go for a run. They are really demanding on the body, which is why you get so much benefit from such a short exertion. But more than once or twice a week will almost certainly lead to injury for even the most enthusiastic runner. And if you are a beginner, don’t try them at all, until you can comfortably run for 30 minutes without stopping. Intervals are not for the faint hearted…literally!

Why Intervals Are The Best For Improving Your Running Speed

There are several reasons why this method is very effective if you want to get faster at half marathon. Firstly it allows you to go at or near maximum effort – something that isn’t possible with a flat work out with no breaks, the rest periods in between allow you to keep going at that maximum level for longer amounts of time. Why is doing exercise at maximum effort matters? Well, just think about two athletes running a 100 meters. One is a sprinter that runs it at a sub 10 seconds, the other is a long distance marathoner who runs it at high but sustainable pace of 6 meters per second. The sprinter can only run 100meters at that speed, marathoner can run for hours. Which one do you think will have a more effective workout? Of course the sprinter.

Interval training allows you to do exercise at maximum effort which produces much better results than exercising at 70% or some such level of your maximum in the same period of time. Time is the second part that makes interval training so great. At some point you reach a level where your fitness is so good that doing exercise in aerobic regime (sustainable level) hardly produces any results unless you do it for hours. But doing them at maximum level with short breaks in between allows you to get a great work out in a short period of time.

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