Interval training. You’ve probably heard of it before, but even if you’re an avid runner, you may not be using it as part of your training. We’ve been touting the benefits of HIIT (or High Intensity Interval Training) for some time, but if you haven’t tried it before, it may seem more intimidating than just going for a run at a steady pace.
For those of who aren’t doing it yet, we wanted to give you a quick guide on what it is, what it’s good for, and why you should be adding it to your routine, no matter what your running goal is.
To put it simply, interval training is an effective method to maximize your training results by alternating bursts of faster running with lower intensity running for short periods of time. This type of training is usually compared with endurance training, where slow and steady runs are done at a lower average intensity.
Despite some confusion that could arise from these names, both types can help you improve your endurance and performance. Yet there are a few reasons why interval training gains the upper hand, especially if you want to get the most out of a tight workout schedule.
The benefits of interval training when compared to endurance training have been the focus of a considerable amount of research. In one study from 2013, both training methods were compared in a group of young to middle-aged participants. The results were that high intensity interval training was actually able to increase endurance more effectively than actual endurance training over the same period of time.
This was due to a higher increase in VO2 max capacity. Your VO2 max is basically a measure of how effectively your body is able to use oxygen, and the higher your VO2 max, the better your endurance. So, even though endurance training has its place when you want to improve your overall fitness, interval training is a great way to get fast results.
Aside from the science behind increasing your endurance, interval training makes running more fun, with people who add it to their training sessions reporting a higher overall perceived enjoyment of their run compared to those who run at a steady intensity.
Intervals are not only a fun way to mix it up on your runs, but they are also awesome for boosting your metabolism after your workout and for helping you increase your pace when speed is your main goal. Intervals are also referred to as Fartleks, which means speed play in Swedish, and that’s as fun to say as it is to do!
If you want to get started with interval training, look no further than your Endomondo app. We’ve made it easy to try out different Premium interval programs so you can decide how challenging you want to make your workout. To access your interval options, simply select it from the workout menu on your main tracker screen.
From there, you’ll be able to choose one of our predefined interval programs or create your own. Our predefined programs are:
- Standard: a great beginner program consisting of one-minute intervals varying between low and medium intensity.
- Pyramid: the pyramid interval program consists of a series of short intervals varying between low, medium and high intensity.
- High Intensity: this program is a perfect way to add a short yet effective interval session to your run.
To help make sure your foray into interval training is a success, here are a few tips to keep your training on point:
Perfect your stride
When doing intervals, injury prevention is key. That’s why minding your stride length can help, so be sure to have your feet land directly underneath your body.
2. Kick it into high gear
Make sure your sneakers are ready to keep up with your training by replacing them every 800 km.
3. Watch your progress
The key to intervals is to keep them challenging enough to push you a bit out of your comfort zone. To ensure that you’re progressing properly, try to increase your speed or duration on your weekly sessions by about 10%.
Have you tried interval training? Let us know in the comments!
Free your endorphins,
The Endomondo Team