Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's the most wonderful interval run of the year

All I want for Christmas is to have time to run. I haven't had any lately and when I do, I opt not to because of my afternoon refereeing duties.

But I do long for distance runs and interval runs, for a time to plan out my running schedule a week at a time, to commit to a runs on certain days and follow through with them, to having pain-free... well, let's quit while we're ahead.

One of my favorite runs, pretty much my go-to run when I need something to jolt me back to running or set my training regimen straight, is this interval run. I've mentioned it before - I usually call it "my favorite 42-minute interval run" - but I've not dedicated time to it before now.

Intervals have helped me a tremendous deal. I don't think I would have been able to have accomplished what I accomplished in 2008 without them. Interval runs are simply runs in which you change the pace and speed of your runs in set increments of time. For instance, during a typical interval run I will walk, run slow, run fast and run faster and I will do so intermittently. For instance, I'll start with a walk, build up to a run and then alternate between slow and fast, then walk, then back to slow/fast, walk, etc.

How does this work? For me, it got me used to running when I was already fatigued. With exhaustion already settled in, I was able to fight through that and build up my stamina and endurance by running tired. It forces your heart to work harder than it would during a run that is pretty much the same pace for a sustained period of time. Also, during interval runs you burn more calories than you would otherwise. So if you run a half hour worth of intervals or a half hour at, say a speed of 6.0, you will burn more calories during the interval run.

To me, though, the best part is not having to run for so long. I like to run, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it's easier to get up for a run knowing you will have the chance to walk and run slower and that you aren't necessarily shooting for a particular distance.

This particular interval run was part of a series of runs given to me by my brother-in-law. He was recovering from some major back surgery and a friend of his designed some workouts for him to help him get back into a routine of running. Prior to his back surgery, my brother-in-law had been quite active. With the help of these workouts, he was able to recover fully from his back surgery. His friend has a Master's Degree in Physical Therapy so I trust his work. And frankly I'm proof of its success.

Now, I have only tried a handful of the runs he gave me partly because I fell in love with this run. It worked so well, I didn't feel the need to go on to any other one. Now, below you will see percentages. It is the percentage based on how fast you can run. I will explain how I do it afterward.

Here is the run:

5 min warm up
12 min (1 min 60%, 1 min 90%)
3 min easy recovery
6 min same as above
3 min easy recovery
4 min same as above
2 min easy recovery
2 min sprint
5 min cool down
42 min TOTAL

So basically there are 24 minutes worth of running during this time. The rest is walking. That's quite appealing. If you try to gear up for a 42-minute run, it may be difficult but if you know you will be able to walk for nearly half that time, it may not seem so bad.

Another great aspect of this is that it can suit your needs. The percentages are based on the person running so if the person can only do limited speeds, then it can easily be tailored to suit them. Plus, the more experience you gain and the more stamina you build up, the more you can adjust this run to suit your needs.

When I first started running this, my low was about a 5.5 or 5.7 and I believe my high was around a 6.8. The sprint was an 8.0. Now, my low is 6.0, high is 7.5 and my sprint is at a 9.0. I don't know how much higher I will go but for now this suits me fine.

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