The What Where and Why of Interval Training

02 Sep The What Where and Why of Interval Training

When it comes to training – most runners appreciate that building up your miles towards your goal event is a pretty simple concept to grasp.


Lets take a half marathon in 18 weeks time.


Week one you can start at 8k, increase by 1km every weekend (with a drop back in every fourth week)

So that we roughly have something that looks like the following:


wk1 – 8k

wk2 – 9k

wk3 – 10k

wk4 – 8k

wk5 – 11k

wk6 – 12k

wk7 – 13k

wk8 – 9k

wk9 – 14k

wk10 – 15k

wk11 – 16k

wk12 – 10k

wk13 – 17k

wk14 – 18k

wk15 – 19k

wk16 – 11k

wk17 – 20k

wk18 – 21k

wk19 – Taper, 12k

wk20 – Race Week


(You are very welcome to steal away if you would like to use this).


It gives a very basic build up to a half marathon for an intermediate runner.


But what about the other sessions in the week.


How long should my intervals be? How many of them? What rest should I take?


I get asked this question from Advanced runners all the way down to first time 5k runners.


What should we be looking at when it comes to intervals.


So I thought I’d give a quick overview of how I usually prep my sessions for the guys who get Coached Online by me.


They seem to love what I do, and to be fair I love setting them such wonderful sessions… 😉



We can look at the VOLUME OF WORK in each interval session.

interval training volume

Managing Volume during your training plan

With intervals we will have periods of work, followed up with periods of rest.


As an example – one of my favourite sessions is 5x 4:00 (hard intensity, usually something around 5-10k pace) with 90s off.

It’s pretty horrible if you get the pacing correct – but in this session there is a total of 20:00 work.


The following week to progress the volume of work, we would need to increase this figure (making the session more intense for the runner).

The easiest way to do this is to go in with 5x 5:00 at the same pace, with the same recovery time. Now making 25:00 of work time.


Its important to just change one variable at a time. As a different way of adjusting the intensity is to take less rest. But for now lets keep it simple.


We can also look at the TIMING of the interval session.

The timing of your interval session in preparation for your event is very important

The timing of your session in preparation for your event is very important

If you are looking to build up for a half marathon, you would start around 18+ weeks out in what we call Base Training.


This is where we work on general conditioning and fitness. Most of this is low intensity making sure the body is ready for the stresses ahead.


After 4-6 weeks like this we will then progress into some more intense work, adding in speed, hills to make the program that bit more challenging. In this period we would add some above race pace intervals.


As we get closer to race day, we would spend more time working at race pace intensity – ensuring that you can get used to holding that particular pace for a longer period of time as this is what we would need you to do on the event day.


So the timing of the session will dictate what pace you’ll be running in those interval sessions you’ll be doing.


And now the point where we get down to earth…

Now neither you nor I am about to knock on the door of the Olympic Committee and demand a place on the team for Tokyo 2020.

Which often means things like I have mentioned above get ignored by many runners… Which is a real shame.


I don’t work with elite level athletes.


I work with the everyday heroes. The mums, dads, husbands and wives who have to balance training with the rest of the crazy stuff going on right now.


Which means we have to be really FOCUSED.


No wasting time doing things which aren’t going to help you improve.


Which is why at RunCamp we do focus on the things above. To make sure that the things you are doing DON’T waste your time and result in you getting frustrated with not getting anywhere!

Because I genuinely want to help you improve.


With this in mind I’d like to invite you to a free interval session with us on a Friday Night in September.


Friday 30th September 2016 in fact in Southampton Sports Centre at 7:30pm.


It’ll be our famous Interval Session, we will have our regular (and awesome) Friday night crew there already.


The first 10 people to reply to this message will get a spot, the rest will be on a waiting list.

And for the regulars reading this and thinking they are missing out…


Don’t worry I’ll look after you as your first drink is on me…

As long as it’s water… 😉 – seriously though – I’m getting round one in to say thanks for supporting the session this past year.


We’ll be doing an interval session from 7:30-8:30 and then hitting up the pub for a quick drink (maybe food afterwards).


It’ll be a tough session designed for those who really want to improve across any distance.


And all you have to do is reply to this message (or email and pop in the subject RUNFAST [and that is exactly what we will help you do].


Once you have done this then check out the Facebook event for details (if you don’t have Facebook then don’t worry as we will also email out to you).


If you can’t make the session, thats no problem either… As you can grab similar sessions from my ebook on Amazon



Coach Ant

P.S. Questions like the above get asked a lot in the Run365 group we have – we are also going to upload a video to answer these questions so if you haven’t gotten involved yet but have a question you really want to ask – join the group >>here<<

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