New Year. New Intervals.

My friend and I decided that it was once again time to increase the length of our running intervals.

It has been a long road to get to this point in the running plan. We’ve taken it very slowly to eliminate the risk of any injuries along the way. This very slow and steady increase in both the interval durations and the distance covered has meant that he has been able consistently build his running performance and avoid all the usual pitfalls along the training pathway.

We are now doing this set:

  1. Walk for 2 mins to warm up (although it isn’t really warming up in the current temperatures of 10-14F!)
  2. Speed Interval: Run for six minutes
  3. Walk Interval: Walk for two minutes
  4. Repeat until 6 miles covered.
  5. Walk for one minute at the end.

One thing that we do try to do is achieve a ‘reverse split’. This means that you make the return trip faster than the outward trip.

We achieve this by reducing the walking intervals on the second half. After we turn around at the 3 mile point, we wait until the first walk interval and delay it by running for an additional 30 seconds. We then start walking for 1 minute 30 seconds.

If we feel fine at the next walk interval, then we run for an extra 45 seconds. After this we start walking for 1 minute 15 seconds.

At the next walk interval, we decide whether we will try to run straight-through to the end, or just push it up to one minute of extra running.

This flexibility in the return intervals allows us to push a little harder and further each time, but keeps us in tune with the various muscles and stops us doing anything stupid. It also means that we can gradually build towards the next interval goal and let’s achieve ‘course’ records regularly as a form of motivation.

Having gone from walking for 2 miles to run-walking 6 miles in around 58 minutes, all with no injuries incurred, I’d say that this has been a successful strategy. We’ve built up to this over the course of 15 months, so it isn’t a fast way to get from ‘couch to 5k’, but that’s not what I encourage anyway. Most of my friends who have tried those plans either got injured or found it to be tiresome and stopped running altogether.

I’m interested in encouraging people to run for the rest of their lives; not for a single event.

If you are looking to learn to run and don’t want to fall by the roadside, side-lined by an injury, try a run-walk-run approach like this.

Additionally, my friend can now run four miles without any walk breaks at all. He’s certainly set to get a new 5k record next time he runs one, that’s for sure.

If you need to know how to setup intervals like this, most popular running apps will support it. We use mapmyrun but it is an advanced feature that you have to pay an additional fee for. Make sure you have the volume turned up so you can hear the announcements. RunKeeper also offers a similar function. I know that Garmin devices generally support this approach too, so there’s plenty to choose from.

As a footnote (pun intended), you should track the mileage on your shoes. Most of these running apps will support this. Depending on your weight and running style the mileage you will get out of a pair of shoes may vary, but typically 300-500 miles is the most you can get.

Also, if you are just starting out and have a janky old pair of shoes that you used to wear for gym class, get rid of them. Go to a specialist running shop and get them to help you choose some appropriate modern shoes. They may ask you to walk or run on a treadmill to see how you move. Be prepared to have to spend an hour or more on this task and probably over $100 for a decent pair of shoes. Your body will be glad of the investment.

Get out there. Try running. And learn to love running by taking a very slow approach to increasing your distance.

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2 thoughts on “New Year. New Intervals.

  1. Ed

    I can honestly say I never thought I’d be a runner. With bad knees, a wonky back and having been extremely extremely overweight, it never entered my mind as a possibility. Thanks to Paul’s encouragement and coaching, I’ve been able to turn my life around! Thanks Paul!

    Reply

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