I would like to share some of my own tips for interval training. Interval training is one of the best ways to improve your speed endurance and they are a solid part of my own training: 1 km and 2 km intervals every third week.
The mental strength needed in races, also develops when you go through the mental and physical ups and downs during the interval session.
Tips for interval training
Truthfully speaking, interval training can be cruel. For myself, interval training is more of a mental fight that already starts the day before the session. Just the thought of the nearing interval session makes my stomach turn, when I know I will need to push myself to the limits, and also feel uncomfortable in so many ways. Even though the session makes me quite nervous, the knowledge of the positive effects it will have on my performance gets me to the track each time.
The great feeling after the session is also very rewarding – I did it again! 🙂
Here are a few tips and tricks I use to keep the right pace up, the negative thoughts away and altogether the session together. Hopefully some of them will help you as well.
Tips and tricks for interval training
- Make sure the number of intervals, pace and the rest in between is in sync with your current level of fitness. To determine your pace read here. 10k Program Tips
- Do not start the first few intervals with too much eagerness and keep the session balanced. Fatigue will most likely catch up after the first few, so save some of your energy for the final intervals.
- Try to stay relaxed at speed. Concentrate on having a good “relaxed” running form, being light on your feet and breathing as relaxed/calmly as possible for as long as possible.
- Concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing, arm and foot movement (not on how uncomfortable you feel!) and try to keep this rhythm going during the intervals. Don’t let negative thoughts interfere with this concentration.
- Keep your head slightly tilted forwards rather than backwards. Your head is heavy compared to the rest of the body, so use its weight to your benefit. Nod your head (chin towards chest) once in a while if the head starts tilting backwards. Nodding also relaxes the shoulders.
- When your breathing gets heavy, breathe out heavily pushing the air out as if from the stomach by using the stomach and diaphragm muscles. It relaxes you.
- If the pace starts slowing down, you can pick up the pace by swinging your elbows more vigorously backwards. Use your arms to your benefit on the bends too, especially the arm on the inner side of the track. The pace easily slows down on the bends.
- When running into headwind make yourself slightly smaller (arms closer to the body and crouch just a little bit). Go into the wind “head-first”, shorten your stride and use your arms more. Try no to waste your leg energy running into the wind.
- When running with the wind behind you, make yourself big and as tall as possible by moving your arms away from the body and by straightening your posture. This way the wind catches more of you and helps you forward. Take long strides, breath strongly from your stomach and try to recover while the wind does a part of the job for you 😉
- You can also train your race day tactics by running the first interval a bit faster, the middle intervals at the aimed pace and then give it your all during the last one.
- The last interval always takes care of itself. It’s the last one! You’ll be surprised to find the extra energy for this one and probably surprised by the time of the interval too 🙂
- Don’t let negative thoughts rule you. Your body is capable of miracles, if you do not let the negative thoughts interfere.
- Remind yourself that with this session you get results.