“I feel the need for the speed”, so let’s hit those speedy intervals, or perhaps the cinema beckons…
Yet is interval training for every runner and I guess the question is should you be doing them? If so how and where to start. So let’s take a look at what they are and the variations.
Interval Training, or Repetition sessions are so often misunderstood and when purely executed they become ‘junk miles’ and in doing so rapidly increase the risk of injury or over training.
Good examples of an Interval session would be to visit your local athletics track and start running reps. So a straightforward example would be
6 x 400 meters with say recovery of an easy jogged lap.
The more experienced and fitter will be adding sets.
Two sets of 6 x 400 meters, with 45 secs recovery between reps. The recovery between the sets could be 4 mins.
Some Common Misconceptions
Let’s start with the biggest mistake. Intervals should not be run as fast as you can. Run till you drop sessions are a waste of time. The second, mistake many make is an assumption that because they can say, race 5k then they can go straight into a set that equates to that same distance. Again, this is likely to induce fatigue something that is not your friend. If you teach your body to run into fatigue then it will learn to recognise the signs of what’s to come and protect itself. It does this by slowing you down – what good is that?
Intervals are also about you, so in trying to keep up with someone faster than you is again not such a good thing. Believe it or not a sub 16 minute 5k runner can run the same session as a 25 minute 5k runner – one will just finish sooner. (That has it’s advantages as they can get the kettle on!) So it’s really important to run your pace.
For me, if you plan your session correctly then yes, interval training is something for everyone.
Why Interval Train?
There are clear benefits. Yes, if run correctly with a little planning they help develop speed or your ability to keep speed going for longer.
They also help with your running form, especially towards the end of a race when let’s be honest, even the best can get a little raggedy.
Part of this speed development comes from the fact that you are also developing your bodies ability to be effective in utilising and clearing lactate acid. All of these things the body will adapt too. It takes a little time though.
The body’s adaptation process takes place on recovery days and during rest time, including sleep. An exhausted body will not adapt as quickly as one that is only a little fatigued – something that should always be remembered. So interval sessions that leave wanting more, with only a little fatigue can be a good thing. This will ensure your body will learn and train itself to recover and adapt effectively.
So all in all in you may not always feel quicker finishing an interval session, yet your body is adapting. Therefore your efficiency improves and you are faster!
How Fast Should Intervals Be?
Here’s the thing. No faster than your current known race pace. So if you run 20 minutes for a 5k then that would be 2 minutes for 500 meter intervals. Conversely, if you are looking to develop a 50 minute 10k race time then that would be 5 minutes per kilometer, or 2:30 for each 500.
There is no point in running intervals at a speed your body cannot yet run over a given race distance
The rule here is fairly straightforward only run intervals at a given and known race speed that is current. There are plenty of charts and phone apps to help you calculate your race pace from a known time and distance. They are reliant on your fitness being spot on for each distance that you are predicting though.
There is a growing argument and in fairness something I have always believed in. This is that running your intervals a little slower than race pace can also be highly effective. There is so much less fatigue. I would also add that you can run your intervals to heart rate, although for this I would definitely recommend a Lactate Test. (Check out AcceleratePerformance.co.uk)
So How Many Intervals Should you Run?
This very much does depend on your experience and also how much you currently train. You also have to remember if you are not used to running weekly session at your race pace then your body will find these hard. As a result you will be moving quicker so pushing harder. Your range of movement will increase so stretching things out a little more. So some caution is a good thing. Fartlek, is a great precursor to hitting the track.
If this is your first interval session then play safe.
Consider your first session to be half the distance of the race distance the session is designed to help. Perhaps a little less for 10k specific training. You can build the distance every couple of weeks. In addition start with one session per week, no more. You are looking for progressive adaptation not progressive speed!
What About Recovery Time Between Each Interval?
This is always a tough one. For 5km and 10km pace try halving your interval time. So if you are running 2-minute 400’s then start with a minute easy walk / jog / walk recovery. Yes, as you become fitter and more used to this work load you can drop the recovery time. You will find fitter athletes will require as little as 30 seconds.
What About Over-Distance Sessions?
These can be highly effective. Simply this means that you are going to run a total interval distance greater than the race distance the session is designed for. In doing so you will build into this style of session over time.
It is also worth considering dropping the target time a little and / or increasing the recovery time. Another option is to split the session into two or perhaps three sets, ensuring plenty of recovery time. The key is to not just to keep the pace the same, also the effort. This is where a heart rate monitor can come in handy. As your effort increases so does your heart, as with fatigue towards the end of a set.
Are Multi-Paced Sessions a Good Idea?
Yes! They are also good fun. Again another type of session to build into.
You could start with two sets. The first set at 10km pace and then the second set at you 5km, with shorter distanced intervals.
Another way of using multi-paced sets is to run a longer rep at say 10km pace and then a shorter rep at 5km pace, alternating these as you go through.
4 x 1km @ current 10km pace, 60 seconds walk / jog / walk recovery
4 mins walk / jog / walk recovery between sets
6 x 600mts @ current 5km pace, 60 seconds walk / jog / walk recovery
The key remains don’t become overly fatigued from these type of sessions as there simply is no gain. This is the human body we are talking about not a racing car. As long as you plan ahead and for each and every session you should see improvement. This really does mean ensuring the correct current pacing is utilised, not your ‘wish’ pace. With newcomers to Interval sessions using differing race paces as your target at different sessions is a great way to start. Then you can focus in on your race specificity.
Yes, I do think that interval training can offer something for every runner.
Interval Try Out Time: If you would like to join in a session for the first time, then why not come along on the 2nd June 2022. We will be running a coached session that will be tailored to every attendee based on experience and their current racing pace. You can also test a pair of Carbon Shoes should you want too. Details HERE >>
Meet Sarah and Simon.
They have been part of the Accelerate Community for many years now. Both started by attending Accelerate’s Woodrun group, which then developed into both of them completing the Leadership in Running Fitness Course (LiRF). This then lead them into leading their own group on a Friday morning. We’ve asked Sarah and Simon a few questions about their coaching Journey, so carry on reading to find out how they got involved.
How did you get involved with the Accelerate community?
Sarah – About 10 years ago I used to go to Accelerate’ s breakfast run which used to be held on Thursday mornings from the shop. It was fab- a run followed by croissants and coffee and a chinwag after!! That sort of came to a natural end when wood run began on Thursday mornings in Ecclesall woods. I went to the first wood run probably around 2014/15 and religiously went every week ever since (until Covid struck!!). Everything really progressed from those mornings in the woods!!
Simon – I was looking for something different to do after I’d been running for a few years and came across a group on Facebook organising a run up a hill in The Park District. I went along, enjoyed myself and they were very friendly so when they mentioned a running group that had just started on a Thursday morning in Ecclesall Woods, I thought I’d go along. That was the start of WoodRun and I’ve been with the Accelerate community ever since.
How did you start with RP50?
Sarah – RP 50 was Stu’s idea, I think. I was sat in the shop one Friday morning after S&C and he said he wanted to start a group for more mature people(!) who were new to running or were getting back in to running or have always run but wanted a group of similarly aged people who weren’t going to leave them for dust. The OLP had just been developed with the 100m track there and it seemed like the perfect spot. So it was born in June 2018.
Simon – During lockdown, whilst WoodRun was shut down, I moved house from west Sheffield across to north Rotherham. Once things began to open up again, the trek across to WoodRun wasn’t really going to be practical but I wanted to commit to running regularly again. I knew Sarah was doing RP50 this side of Sheffield and as we’d ‘grown up’ together at WoodRun, it seemed like a good fit for me to join the coaching team with her. Thankfully Sarah felt the same way!
How did you get into coaching?
Sarah – As for coaching…there was a handful of us that always went to woodrun and a few years into it, Stu asked us regulars if we wanted to do the Lirf run leader course so off we all went and completed that.
Simon – There were a core group of about half a dozen of us at WoodRun who’d been going along for a few years. Stu wanted to try and make WoodRun a bit more self-sustaining, so he asked if we’d consider training up to lead/coach the bigger group. We went off and did the LiRF and then Stu mentored us over the following months until we were able to manage on our own. It’s all Stu’s fault really… isn’t it always!!!
Why did you get into coaching?
Sarah – As for why I got into it, I just thought it would be fun and would be another string to my bow. I loved running and was excited to learn more about it and if I could pass what I learnt on to other people then that’s a bonus.
Simon – As I said above, I got into it because I wanted to make sure WoodRun continued… selfish really! Why do I keep coaching… well that’s the next answer!
What’s your favourite aspect of coaching?
Sarah – The best thing about coaching RP50 is seeing the progress that they all make. It really is remarkable how far a lot of them have come. If we can encourage them to keep moving and ward off injuries and ailments for as long as possible then I hope they will all still be coming when they are 100!!! Not only do we see their physical fitness improve but their confidence does too! They really are a lovely bunch who are game for anything myself and Simon throw at them.
Simon – I just get a kick out of helping people achieve something. There are plenty of voices in this world telling us what we can’t do, what we aren’t good enough at, what we shouldn’t even attempt… and sometimes, sadly, that voice is in our own head. To be a different voice, one which says, it isn’t silly to take a chance or to have a go at something new, and that offers help and support and encouragement… that is a real privilege.
What’s your favourite drill to coach and why?
Sarah – We tend to concentrate on different aspects of the running cycle each week with a focus on the drills that tie in with that specific part. I quite like reminding them of cadence and the different fast feet drills that help with that. They can move their feet rather fast when they are reminded!!!
Simon – My favourite drill?? The one we’ve just done and the one we are about to do next. I just love helping people, get a bit better so I don’t really care which drill, I love them all (except C skips). Given that’s a bit of a cop out answer, if you really forced me to give a favourite drill it would be hopping up the short, steep slope at the WoodRun triangle, with the original group, on a blustery March morning whilst Stu tries to keep us under control and fails. We had such fun, and my calves became enormous!!
If you want to find out more about Running Past 50, click here or give us a call on 0114 242 2569.
Also, Running Past 50 will be at the Big Running Weekend!! This is a great opportunity to try the session to get a feel of what its like. Click here to find the timetable for the weekend and click here to purchase a Big Running Weekend ticket.
I have been lucky enough to get my hand on a pair of the Endorphin Pro’s. The latest entry from Saucony in the carbon shoe battle happening right now. If you head to any busy running area you are bound to see at least a couple of people wearing carbon plated shoes.
Ever since the first few companies released carbon plated shoes and amassed a cult following, PB’s and world records started dropping like flies. Until now I haven’t had a pair, so when the Endorphins bounced through the door I was very interested to see if the hype they had built up was really worth it.
The first thing that hit me out the box was “WOW, these are a flippin good looking shoe”. Bright and bold colors just catching your eye. Yet still maintaining the same look of current running shoes unlike some of the carbon shoes out there.
Slipping your foot into them, they are comfy but not plush. They use Saucony’s FormFit to wrap around and hold your foot firmly in place. The upper is lightweight with no added extras to
maintain a racey feel. Its made with a single-layer engineered mesh upper which is highly breathable to keep your foot cool and drain any water or sweat with ease.
The midsole is Saucony’s latest and greatest PWRRUNPB foam a peba based foam. It claims to be super responsive and cushioned but with the longevity of a standard midsole (500 miles). Sandwiched in between is an S-shaped carbon fiber plate, there to fire you forward with every step. Couple this with Saucony’s new Speedroll meta-rocker and it has the potential to be a very fast shoe. It comes in a whopping 35.5mm stack height in the heel and 27.5 in the forefoot for an 8mm drop. Not quite your traditional racing flat.
To finish it off the outsole use a minimal amount of high carbon rubber compound and exposed midsole to keep them down to a featherweight 213g (UK size 9)
Just jogging up and down in them is a very odd sensation. They feel very soft however, you can feel the plate sandwiched in them as if you are running through mud then hit firm ground. Then roll onto the toe and snap forward. Very strange. But not bad at the same time just very different from anything I have used before.
The first proper opportunity I got to use them was a 3k time trial with some of Team Accelerate. I was excited, to say the least, after hearing all the stats that have been thrown about the Endorphin and other shoes like it. Were they really 4% more efficient than a standard trainer? Well…….
They are bouncy, very bouncy. The combination of soft and springy foam along with the carbon plate results in a shoe with a lot of pop. They feel fast, one of the biggest changes I noticed was how much longer I felt like I was in the air after each stride, almost floating. Now I know they are meant to be a marathon shoe but after 3k my legs felt as if they hadn’t done much not sore or tight even when coming down the small hill in the course it didn’t feel as if they were pounding my legs, still just bouncing along.
I know this was only 3k but still for longer races they certainly could come I handy to keep you feeling fresher even in the later stages of a race.
In short, if you can get hold of a pair then 100% go for it, they are an amazing shoe. They make you feel fast and want to run faster! For anything from 10k and above they are an incredible shoe. The one you pull out on race day when you want to rip it and break PB’s. Get a pair here >> today, alternatively take a look at the Endorphin Speed, a more forgiving racer/ quick trainer, here >>
How many weeks?
Fourteen, I think since we last met up for Team Training.
So what have we been doing? With racing still looking like it is only on the horizon and possibly not set to return for a while, perhaps next year for larger events, training has not been as difficult as you may think.
Some folk will always train towards race goals, such as the need to cover a set distance. Yet the Flamingos are very much geared towards improving that which needs improving. It could be strength, it could be endurance or perhaps lactate tolerance. So during the lockdown-period sessions have been geared towards the development of specific areas that each athlete has required.
Quite simply a SWOT analysis and then a little monitoring from ‘Coach’.
Sessions have also been geared towards a little fun, more time based than distance (often the way here though) and an increase in running safety and healthly allowing for a very nasty virus. So an encouragement towards good nutrition, more recovery time and restorative exercise. Don’t get it wrong, some of the sessions have been hard, more so when on your own.
Time trials have been included, including those with a little navigation. There’s been big hills, very few hills and even a hint of flat for the differing sessions. Most importantly there has still been time for learning and improvement. Then a couple of weeks ago a few of us came together for a 5km Time Trial. The venue the OLP with its tight bends and a short sharp climb each lap. Oh, yes, we chose the day the weather gods switched the wind tunnel on!
It was a chance for everyone to take a few days to think about race prep , To get kit together the night before, to think about pre-TT breakfast and to arrive early for a proper warm up. Then one by one we were set off at 30 second intervals. OK, no mass start, yet it still felt like a race. To stay ahead of the person behind or to work hard and catch the person in front.
It worked, also the training and no racing period had not done so much harm physically. Improvements yes, pretty much by everyone. Harvey, took 30-secs of his course PB from January. Still not his quickest 5km ever, yet this is definitely not a quick course. Most importantly we saw a step up in consistency through each 1km as pace was more even. No drop offs. Heart rate was on the money and showed how well working to a high tempo and heart rate has benefited him.
George and Will also demonstrated a speedy response to lock down. Strength for George was definitely on the up as he moved around the course with pretty even splits, no drop of in pace. Will, probably realised a negative split can be ‘too big’. He finished fast though, very fast. He gets that right and yikes!
Meanwhile, Issy-Mai, turned her legs over fast for 2km. Despite managing a wrong term and a double back, she equaled her best running pre lock down. With a little more racing and getting used to a TT she will fair so much better. This was actually, her first ever TT and she definitely found it odd. It’s all good learning though, she did great!
Away from the Flamingo’s other Team members came along with Dot Kesterton flying around whilst Andy Shelton took the opportunity to check out his marathon pacing. The opportunities for the use of a time trial should never be underestimated.
This will be an experience as a Team we are due to repeat in a few weeks time. Unfortunately though, it has given ‘Coach’ a few ideas to further develop our individual training. Development he calls it. ‘Needing a lie down more like!’
Roll on our return to Team Training. It’s gonna be so good to catch up with everyone, even from the specified two meters.
Harry who regularly runs with running past 50 on a friday and attends parkruns every saturday shares how he has stayed fit when all of his normal outings are gone.
Week 8 and have not been outside the gate. This not because of Coronavirus phobia but because my wife is on the government extremely vulnerable list for the virus.
I do not have dumbbells or a yoga mat but what I do have is a furnished house and a garden. You do not need a gym to keep fit. So how have I managed?
Daily routine consists of 10-minute workout in private in the bedroom. Starts with spinal stretches. Can nearly touch my toes. Hamstrings are held taut and stretched by placing a foot on a chair. Hips are swung without shoulders moving. Shoulders swung with hips held firm. Dressing table is pressed into action for bicep and triceps dips. Even though it is only 08.30 am out comes the gin bottle. A litre bottle of Tanqueray Gin weighs 1.602kg. (at the start of the week.) Useful for developing upper body strength, mainly bicep curls. The bedroom rug doubles up as a yoga mat for sit ups.
Walking around the garden I can resist re-enacting a scene from John Cleese the Ministry of Funny Walks sketches. High kick walk. Then opening and closing the hip gate as I progress down the path. Amuses the neighbours whom I am sure wonder if I am losing sanity as isolation continues. To add to their entertainment, I run a mile around the garden each night. 30 to 40 m of ascent depending on route. So many twists and turns that it takes at least 22 minutes of strenuous effort. PB 20.05 all comers welcome after lockdown is over.
Add to this routine Sunday I act as house fairy. Hoovering is a brilliant exercise. Use those Abdominal muscles. Move furniture, Weight lift on the stairs. Put in the occasional star jump. Bee bop to music whatever but the job gets done. Windows are washed, requiring step aerobics as well as upper body work out. Even watching TV or working at the computer induces the odd chair squat
Twice weekly 2 kg of bread dough are kneaded. Shoulder ache after this 20-minute workout.
The outdoor gym AKA the Garden then becomes my focus of activity most days. A wealth of equipment here. Electric mower that needs pushing. Hedge cutter waiting to be used. Barrows of compost to be shovelled and lifted. Land drains to be dug up, unblocked, and then relayed. Essential tree surgery using hand saw and loppers from the top of a ladder. Seemed as if every muscle group was used as I soaked my aching body in the bath.
I just have strength left for the final exercise of the day. To lift and then extract cork from 1.134kg bottle of Chardonnay.
Hopefully, lockdown will finish soon, and I can resume my normal restful exercise routine namely a daily 2-mile walk, The Over Fifties Running Group on Fridays, and Park Runs Saturday. Despite all the above or perhaps because of it time flies past and I feel FIT and EXHAUSTED
Harry Smith is an Accelerate Community member and a regular at Running past 50, he shares his reason behind getting out the door for a run and its positive effect on his mental and physical health.
‘Pain is inevitable, Suffering is optional ‘The words of Haruki Murakami when talking about running.
I started to run just 2 months short of my 72nd birthday. Dragooned into accompanying my 7-yearold Granddaughter on a park run As a fairly fit twice a week Derbyshire fell walker and numerous long-distance paths completed, i.e. Pennine Way and Coast to Coast, the thought of a 5-kilometre stroll in beautiful Devonian park land sounded appealing. Little did I know this was the start of an addiction. Dressed in old tennis shorts an aertex vest and non pc trainers I was surprised that among the fit, and to my mind young lycra clad who stretch and tried to push trees over, that I did not feel out of place. Walk and jogged. Experiencing euphoria ( or was I hyperventilating) as I was encouraged by other runners and clapped by marshalls as I plodded on. What a triumph not to finish last in a field of 90. Coffee and abacon buttie to follow. So, it all began.
Starting to get hooked
Home to Sheffield and Saturday Park Runs became the norm. I stormed past 50 runs and proudly wear the red T shirt. Sub 30 became the target rain shine and even snow.
Then Accelerate in June 2018 started Running for the Over Fifties, affectionately known as The Wrinklies. The nucleus of the group quickly gelled thanks to coaches Sarah and Stuart. A whole new vocabulary with accompanying action had to be learnt. High Knees, Flamingos in Hot water, Fast feet, Cadence, the dreaded Hill reps and my nemesis Hopscotch. Harry take a breath! When Stuart’s elite young athletes train with us they seem amazed at our stamina and ability to do most of the exercises and drills almost correctly.
Training with the youngsters
All this has a price with strained shoulders, hamstrings and lateral ligaments. Trips to Physio Pete soon put one straight as his fingers prob and manipulate tendons and muscles putting joints into positions mine have not been into in years. Still have to find a use for the black elasticated rubber strap he supplied!
I progressed and with the Wrinklies support entered the Longshaw 10k. My Everest. The Canal Canter had me winning my first and only running medal.
The finish line of Longshaw 10k with the whole of the Running past 50 group
I feel have become part of the running fraternity now ensconced in Patagonia tops, silky shorts, skintight leggings, socks with L and R stamped on them and of course high-end running shoes from Inov-8. Move over Superman.
Back to the original question why I endure this self-inflicted physical torture?
Firstly- the problems of the world disappear as aches, breathlessness and sweat take over one’s life. Keep head up, stay upright, swing arms and place feet underneath become the mantra.
Secondly- To find that after running 5k, although well down the field, you have a respectable time and often first in age group is a boost to one’s ego. Amazed I could complete a 10k.
Thirdly and most important the camaraderie of runners, especially the Wrinklies. Humour is always in the air when we meet.
Finally, one feels fitter, weight is controlled, joints more flexible and muscles relaxed. The mind is clearer.
I long for my next fix as a true running junkie.
So farewell friends, I hope to see you soon
A massive thank you to Harry for putting this together, we look Forward to seeing you out running again soon.
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