Vitesse Running


Interval Running for Beginners: A full guide

I know a lot of beginners who do only easy runs or steady-state running. At some point, they get tired of it because it gets boring to do the same thing over and over again. Moreover, it is hard to improve your running if you don’t add some intensity and variation to your runs.

If you are in this situation as well – we’ve got you covered. The solution? An Olympic runner shares all of her useful tips in this full guide about interval running for beginners.

What is interval training?

First, let us begin with what is interval training.

Simply put, when running intervals you run a certain distance at a higher pace than usual, then you rest/walk/jog, and then you start again until you complete one or more sets.

The intervals could consist of the same distance, for example, 5 sets of 800m with 2 minutes rest. Also, the intervals could be like that – 3 sets of 400m-300m-200m-100m with 1-minute rest between each repetition and 5 minutes rest between each set.

There are so many options out there. You just need to choose wisely what exactly you are trying to achieve and what types of intervals will help you to do that.

Intervals could also be based on time, not distance. For example, 10×2 minutes run with 90′ sec walk in-between. What is more important is your effort and how long is your rest. The higher the speed – the more rest you will need. Likely, if the time/ distance of the interval is longer, you will need more rest to start again.

Benefits of Interval running training

They are many but I will just mention the most common that come to my mind.
1. You are getting fitter and stronger because you build a better endurance base. 
2. Your V02max will increase.
3. Your cardiovascular fitness improves.
4. You are burning more calories overall because your metabolic rate will stay higher even after you are done working out.
5. You will have a better mood.

How to incorporate interval running?

After going through the benefits, let’s discuss how to incorporate them.

Intervals can be stressful in the beginning, although you can have so much fun doing them. That’s why it is important to start with easier intervals that are not too intense. But before you do them, you need to prepare your body properly.

1. Start with some static stretching.
2. Warm up nicely – between 10-20 minutes of very easy running.
3. Do some active stretching.
4. Include some drills.
5. Do some strides – start with  easier strides and try to accelerate your speed with each one until you run at your desired interval pace or higher.

Now you are all set to start

Interval training session example

Now after you’ve done a good warm-up routine, you can start your interval session. Since this is a guide for beginners, start small and do not throw yourself into the ‘deep water’ yet. First sessions should feel easier and at a lower intensity. You can achieve that when you choose a shorter distance and a fair pace plus enough rest.
Let me give you an example of what an easier workout would look like if you are a new 5k runner.
Example: Start with 10x300m at 5k pace with 60 sec rest. You can add more repetitions when you gain more experience. If you don’t know your 5k goal pace, just try to find a pace that is challenging yet still relatively comfortable.

Example of what might be a hard session for a beginner:
8 x 1km at 5k pace with 2min rest. Although this is a very common workout for 5k runners, if you are new to intervals, this is a lot of work and requires a lot of speed control. You can still do longer intervals like 1km but start with no more than 3-4 reps and a little bit of a longer rest, like 3 minutes for example.

For a reason, we created a “Beginners” section in the Vitesse Running App. This section includes workouts that are easier and very suitable for new runners or people who lack enough experience. When you try them and you feel confident, you can move to our specific sections like 5k, 10k, half-marathon, or marathon where you will find interval workouts for those who already feel more advanced.
Moreover, we have a variety of those intervals for beginners – short and long repetitions based on time/ distance and mixed with rest that can include some walking or very easy jogging.
It will take time for your body to adjust to higher intensity workouts, this is why you want to think of this as an adventure, where you explore how much your mind and body can grow while running. Before you know it, you will be ready to start doing more challenging and longer workouts. Just be smart and patient. Good things take time!

Interval running mistakes beginners do

It is normal to make mistakes, especially when you try something new. This is how we learn. However, I would leave here some common mistakes that can make you feel down and way too tired. It will be to your benefit if you avoid them.

1. Starting too fast – let’s imagine you have 8 repetitions but you started so fast that you feel already exhausted at your third one. You are not even halfway and you do not think you will be able to finish. You stop at your fifth repetition before you complete the workout. Your legs are too lactic to continue so you have no choice but to stop.
2. Not taking enough rest – make sure your rest is enough. Sometimes is better to take a break and extend your rest, rather than being unable to finish your workout. When you get better, you will need shorter rest when you run the same effort. Just give it time.
3. Choosing paces that are not in line with your current fitness. Better start slower and increase or build your speed from there. You can become a better runner by being wise and taking it slow, do not try short-cuts because they never work well in the long run.

Final words about interval running for beginners

To wrap up what I already said – just listen to your body. Take it slow. Enjoy it! Intervals are fun and beneficial. In fact, most runners are looking forward to them each week. They help you build your fitness and show you consistently where you are at currently.

Don’t forget to do a variety of them – try different distances, paces and rest. Find what works best for you and help you feel that the fitness you are aiming for is coming. Ideally, you want to have one short and one longer repeat each week or 10 days.

But you don’t have to worry about all of this. Our virtual Vitesse Running Coach has the perfect solution for you. You just have to trust him because he knows how to develop strong runners. The coach will use a special intellect to build the best program designed for you and your goals, so you can relax and enjoy all of your runs.


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