When to add intervals to your training

We explain when to add intervals to your training in order to get the best results.

There are many training plans on the internet that include interval training all year round, with sessions at 10k and 5k pace. The belief that in order to run fast over those distances you need to train regularly at the required pace is understandable. However your body doesn’t work like that.

Interval training should be the icing on the cake

Imagine a sponge cake with three layers of jam. The sponge represents the Chatty running or base training. This will make you fitter and faster. The jam represents the Sparkly ten second efforts which you do all year round. Finally to finish the cake off you need to add the icing which is the faster, harder running done in interval sessions. Mixing the icing in with the sponge as you make it doesn’t make a delicious cake. It is important to wait for the cake to cook and rise to it’s maximum. Imagine your improvement is represented by the rising cake in the oven. When it is done that means you have stopped improving and you are ready to add the icing with some repetition running at faster paces.

Interval training uses the body’s emergency energy system

Running at 5km pace triggers the body’s emergency system which uses anaerobic energy. This means without oxygen and it creates acidity which gets you out of breath and makes your legs heavy. You can see Colin demonstrate 5km pace running here.

It is counterproductive to train the anaerobic system all year round

Training at 5km pace knocks back your aerobic fitness. It’s almost as if you have to cash in a little of your base fitness in order to achieve the extra speed that anaerobic training stimulates. The anaerobic system is very quick to train but equally quick to loose. You only need 4 to 5 weeks of intervals once or twice a week. Introduce intervals around ten weeks before your target 5 or 10km race. After 4 to 5 weeks the anaerobic system will be trained to it’s maximum and you are ready to work on some pure speed before tapering for your race.

The Chatty Sparkly running base helps you recover from faster interval training

Having a solid base of Chatty Sparkly running is essential to prepare your body to cope with the demands of interval training. It will help you recover from the sessions. Doing interval training without a background of Chatty running puts you at risk of injury and illness.

To summarise:

Add interval training only when you have stopped improving with Chatty Sparkly running.

Add 4-5 weeks of interval sessions doing one or two sessions a week.

Introduce them around ten weeks before your target 5 or 10km race.

Watch our next video for some sample sessions.

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  1. Pingback: How to train on hills - Chatty Sparkly Runners

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