How To Interval Train Running

Interval training is an essential part of any runner’s training regimen. It involves alternating periods of intense effort with periods of rest or lower intensity. This type of training is highly effective for improving speed, endurance, and overall fitness. As a runner myself, I can attest to the power of interval training in taking my running to the next level.

Getting Started with Interval Training

To start interval training, first determine your goal. Are you aiming to improve your speed, increase your endurance, or simply mix up your training routine? Once you have a clear objective in mind, you can tailor your interval workouts accordingly.

Next, decide on the interval length and intensity. Shorter intervals, such as 200 meters or 400 meters, are great for speed training, while longer intervals, such as 800 meters or 1 mile, are better suited for endurance training. As for intensity, aim to work at a pace that feels challenging but sustainable. It’s important to push yourself, but not to the point of exhaustion.

Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to hit the track or the road. Warm up with a few minutes of light jogging or dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles for the upcoming workout. Then, start your first interval at the designated distance and intensity. Focus on maintaining good form and breathing evenly throughout each interval.

After completing your intense effort, take a short rest or recovery period. This allows your heart rate to lower and your muscles to recover before the next interval. The length of the rest period can vary depending on your fitness level and the intensity of your intervals. As a general guideline, aim for a rest period that is half the length of your interval.

Repeat this cycle of intense effort and recovery for several intervals, gradually increasing the number and/or intensity of intervals as you become more comfortable. It’s important to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. If a particular interval feels too challenging, don’t be afraid to dial back the intensity or take longer rest periods.

The Benefits of Interval Training

Interval training offers numerous benefits for runners. One of the biggest advantages is improved speed. By pushing your body to work at a higher intensity during the intense effort intervals, you train your muscles and cardiovascular system to become more efficient and powerful.

Interval training also increases your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, allowing you to maintain a faster pace for longer periods of time. This translates to improved endurance, which is essential for longer distance races or events.

Another benefit of interval training is its efficiency. With interval workouts, you can achieve significant fitness gains in a shorter amount of time compared to steady-state running. This is particularly helpful for busy individuals who have limited time for training.

Additionally, interval training can help prevent boredom and plateaus in your running routine. By introducing variety and intensity into your workouts, you keep your body and mind challenged, making your training more enjoyable and effective.


Interval training is a valuable tool for runners looking to improve their speed, endurance, and overall fitness. By incorporating interval workouts into your training routine, you can push your boundaries, achieve new personal bests, and take your running to the next level. Remember to start with a clear goal, choose suitable intervals and intensities, and gradually progress as your fitness improves. Embrace the challenge and enjoy the benefits that interval training has to offer!