In the past interval training hasn't been high on my agenda, but since I started working with a coach, and taking a new approach to marathon training, my life seems to be all about intervals! Two of my three runs a week are focused on intervals - short interval training, and long interval training - and every run starts with an interval warm up. Let's just say I'm getting pretty good at intervals, and I really enjoy them! So what was holding me back before? I think I was nervous about pushing my limits, would intervals hurt, would I fail? I also thought that you needed a track to do intervals properly. That the park was too hilly, or there were too many people on the streets. Turns out that's total rubbish. There's not much you need to get a good interval workout - a stop watch and a pavement - and it'll make a world of difference to your performance, I know I feel a lot fitter and more focused that I have in the past. It's all because I made the pavements my track.
Find your track
There are tracks everywhere, you just have to look for them! A football pitch, a dirt track in the local park or my favourite, the pavement! I use the Footpath App to work out how many times around my block I need to run to cover a 400m or 800m interval and then I'm good to go. Another option is timed intervals - no need to map anything out, just hit it for 30 seconds - or run from lamp post to lamp post!
Use what's around you
Lamp posts are awesome. They're equal distances apart which means they make great markers for easy pavement intervals, no need to think, just stop and start as you run past each post. Sports pitches are also an awesome option - during school PE we'd do intervals around the rugby pitch, run fast down the long straight, recover along the short. It's a killer workout, and works every time!
Hit the stop watch
Intervals don't always mean running a specific distance, you can get a great workout running 30 seconds on, 30 seconds recovery on repeat. Easy peasy, and perfect for when you're in a rush/in a new city/brain dead after a long day at work! If you want to up your game invest in a metronome and start playing with cadence!
The thing about intervals is that when you're running, you're really running. You're in the zone. You do not need any distractions. If you're using the pavement as a track choose a route where you don't need to cross any roads (I use my block and run around, and around). It's also sensible to pick a route that isn't too busy (or to train at a quite time of day) so you don't accidentally take out any pedestrians! In the park it's good to stick to grassy areas or mud running tracks, but make sure there's no hidden dips, tree roots or dog poop in your way.
Do you include intervals in your training? How do you make it work?
*image: Anna Rachel Photography