Friday, May 16, 2014

Three Benefits of Running Short Intervals

Short for Speed Endurance
Distance: 150 to 300 meters

Why: Put simply, the goal here is to remember how to move your legs quickly, and to make your usual race pace seem slow by comparison. You'll get the most out of these workouts by doing them on tired legs, which will simulate the challenge of running fast late in a race and allow you to slip them in as an extra workout after a previously scheduled run.

How: Ryan Vail often does a set of 8 × 200-meter repeats after a 60- to 90-minute run. Another approach is to do a tempo run of four to six miles, then finish with 5 × 300 meters on the track with 90 seconds rest. The effort should be hard enough that you struggle to maintain pace toward the end of each repeat.
Shorter for Efficiency
Distance: 80 to 150 meters

Why: Sloppy running form is more pronounced when you're jogging. When you speed up, your body automatically adjusts to sprint more efficiently: You'll push off more powerfully with each stride, and reduce up-and-down and side-to-side oscillation. With practice, these habits will become ingrained even at slower paces. Practice striding at 90 percent effort, feeling fast but not all-out. Focus on keeping your arms and face relaxed.

How: Once or twice a week after an easy run, do six 100-meter strides on a flat, smooth surface. Alternate between steady 90 percent efforts and accelerations that start a little easier but finish a little harder. Walk back to recover: You shouldn't be out of breath when you begin the next one.
Shortest for Power
Distance: 50 to 100 meters

Why: Full-on sprinting teaches your brain to recruit a full range of muscle fibers, including fast-twitch fibers that get neglected during typical long-distance training. These sprints are the running equivalent of power lifting, so a thorough warmup of at least 15 minutes is essential.

How: The safest way to start is with uphill sprints, which put less stress on your legs than running all-out on flat ground. Start with two sprints lasting six to eight seconds up a four- to six-percent grade, taking a full 2:00 between them. Do the workout once a week, adding two reps each time until you hit 10, and gradually lengthening the sprints to 10 to 12 seconds. When that feels comfortable, try less steep hills, and then flat ground.

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