Interval running, the practice of alternating periods of running and walking, is quickly becoming a routine sight on sidewalks and running paths around the world.
Once primarily used as a way to build up to continuous running, the interval approach is now used by experienced runners everywhere as a standard training method for running long distances.
If you’re having trouble running a specific distance, interval running could help you achieve your goals – read on to find out why.
Running isn’t easy. Even thinking about going for just a short run can be overwhelming, especially for a beginner.
Run-walk intervals can help make running manageable.
Knowing that you only have to run for the next 30 seconds, or minute, or whatever your interval might be is a huge confidence booster. Instead of groaning, “I’ll never make it”, you can affirm, “I can do anything for one more minute.” This can make all the difference between hitting the pavement or staying on the couch.
Go farther, faster
Rather than running until your legs are exhausted, take walk breaks before your legs are fatigued. This helps keep you going longer and feel better while doing it (bonus: you’ll also feel better the day after).
Because walk intervals give your running muscles a short rest, allowing them to come back refreshed for the next round of running. In other words, they allow you to extend your workout without feeling like you’re going to die.
Here’s an even cooler fact: while it may sound counter-intuitive, most people employing the run-walk approach actually log faster times overall than when they run without taking walk breaks. Thanks to the recovery effect, your pace while running an interval is faster than when you’re running continuously. This speed increase makes up for the slower pace during the walking intervals.
It’s really easy to begin running intervals! All you need is a timer capable of tracking 2 different intervals for at least 30 minutes. A smartphone app
such as RunKeeper, or a GymBoss timer
is an easy solution, or you could even use a simple digital watch.
If you’re brand new to running, start out with 30 seconds of running followed by 60 seconds of walking. If you’ve been running for awhile, you can start out with longer running intervals, such as 1-2 minutes.
For shorter running intervals, keep your walking recovery to either the same length or slightly longer (such as 30 second run, 30 second walk). For 2 minute (or longer) running intervals, stick with a 1 minute walking interval.
As you improve and get stronger, you can increase the duration of the running intervals or add more intervals to cover a further distance. Just make sure that you only increase one or the other at a time. Building up slowly helps you stay injury-free.
You might use this method to train yourself for a specific distance, which is great. But you can also use your interval plan indefinitely! If it’s working for you, there’s no rule that says running any race has to be done without walking. Listen to your body – whatever feels best for you
is the best way to run.
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Jill is a personal trainer, coach, runner, triathlete, blogger and author, who wants to live in a world where everyone is free to feel fit and fabulous at any size. She writes about the joys and challenges of being a curvy runner, and shares her experiences, knowledge and expertise to help her readers embrace their inner athlete. In addition to running, she has an unbridled passion for kettlebells, cupcakes, champagne, fuchsia and murder mysteries (not necessarily in that order).