Alongside your hill workouts, intervals are how you make your heart and lung system ready to carry the load of racing. Once you introduce intervals and intensity into your program it’s super important that your “other” and “easy” days are truly easy so that you can recovery properly for the next bout of intensity.
Video & photos coming once the snow melts in Golden!
The intent of longer intervals is to practise your “race pace” in preparation for the big day. Longer intensity should be done on a track, flat or slightly rolling terrain. My preference is to do it on trails or roads where the footing is secure and you can really lock into a pace without having to worry about natural obstacles.
Long Repeats with short recovery is the name of the game. Your periods of effort should be anywhere from 2 km to 5 km and your effort should be “half marathon pace” or 85-90% of your max heart rate.
Short Recovery - your recovery should be no more than half the duration of your effort, ideally only 25% of your effort period. Also, your recovery can still be relatively “hard.” For example, if you do a 2 km effort at 5:00/km, then 1 km at 5:30/km.
Repeat 2-5 times.
Suggested Workout (early season) - 2 km of effort followed by 1 km easy jog, repeat 3 times.
Suggested Workout (mid-season) - 3 km of effort, followed by 1 km at 30 seconds/km slower, repeat 3 times.
Suggested Workout (late-season) - 5 km of effort, followed by 2 km at 30 seconds/km slower, repeat 3 times.
The purpose of short intensity is to teach your body how to move faster, with the view of eventually being able to translate this pace into your long interval pace. Short intensity is best done on a track or a flat stretch of road or trail where there is secure footing.
Short Repeats with medium recovery is what we’re looking for. That means 400m to 1 km of effort followed by the recovery period. Your effort should be your maximum sustainable pace for the workout (often much faster than your 5 km pace) or 90-95% of your maximum heart rate.
Long Recovery - take the amount of time you need to recover and bring your breathing back to a normal pace. For example, if you do a 400m repeat, jog or walk slowly until you feel like you’re just out for an easy run. This could be 90 seconds or it could be 5 minutes!
Repeat 2-8 times, or until you can no longer hold your pace on the effort.
Suggested Workout (early season) - 400m repeats at X pace, repeat 4 times; then take a longer break and repeat another 4 times.
Suggested Workout (mid-season) - 800m repeats at X pace, repeat 6 times.
Suggested Workout (late-season) - 800m repeats at X pace, repeat 6 times; then, after a longer break, do 400m repeats at X-10 second pace, repeat 4 times.
(Note: X pace is determined by you! It should be your /km pace for your fastest ever 5 km, or go run a 400m as fast as you can and add 10-15 seconds on to that pace.)
Fartlek (Speed Play)
This is your opportunity to get out on the trails and work on running fast over technical obstacles. Fartlek is a self-lead, semi-structured intensity effort that is supposed to be “fun” and similar to a race environment at times.
Workout design should be centered around a total time of effort - i.e. 30 minutes warm up, 45 minutes of Fartlek, 20 minutes of cool down. The Fartlek portion of the workout can be done in a few ways and there are some examples below. The best intention is for that period of effort to be similar to a trail race.
Suggested Workout - Run with a group of friends, each person is given their order in the workout and a time they have to fill. Each person can choose their own periods of hard running and recovery and the group will follow them.
Suggested Workout - Choose a route with lots of hills and focus on running all of the uphills + 1 minute after the top of the uphill at a harder intensity. Take an easier recovery on the downhills and periods between hills.
Suggested Workout - Choose a route with a variety of terrain and focus on running the bottom of downhills and transition sections at a harder pace. Run the uphills at a sustained but manageable effort.