How much rest should be taken between intervals?
This is a question that I get quite often, so wanted to break it down in a blog.
Knowing how to take the proper amount of rest while doing speed and tempo training can make the difference between getting faster or staying in a plateau.
Its also important to know how to properly cut down rest, not just build up the interval s. For example, many training programs have you running 6 reps of 400 meters with 1 min rest, then the following week, they build to 8 reps, then 10 reps, and so on….yet they often fail to bring down that rest period. This creates certain expectations from the body in that it will always get a 60 sec rest after every 400 meters.
So if you’re training for a 5k, a better approach is to alternate weeks from increasing the interval number to weeks of keeping the same number of intervals yet decreasing the rest period. An example would be first week 6 reps of 400 meters with 1 min rest. Second week= same workout with 50 sec rest in between interval.
Anytime you start any training program and especially when incorporating a speed program into your current running regimen, its important to start easy. Muscles, joints, bones, and the whole kinetic chain takes some time to get used to the change of pace…so start easy; 3-4 intervals with full recovery is recommended for the first couple weeks. Take note of how long it takes for you to recover from each interval, we’ll build on that- don’t worry!
As mentioned before, focus on decreasing rest period without changing the current interval workout. So if you did 4x400 meter repeats one week with 1 min rest, perform the same workout, but drop it to 50 sec rest. If you don’t change that rest period, the body will quickly adapt to flushing that lactic acid within the minute period and will always expect that every time you run fast. Unless you plan on stopping for a minute at every 400 meters at your next race, you have to train the body to adapt appropriately.
Build intervals one week, cut down rest the following week (and keep same workout) This works for track workouts, tempo runs (if you break your tempo runs into 2 runs)
Know when to crank it and when to pull back:
Speed workouts are meant to be done fast, that’s the only way your body will adapt to faster speeds and race more comfortably. During intervals, be sure to really push it but avoid the jog and sprint approach where you conserve energy during the interval, but sprint all out the last 10-20 meters. Try a more evenly split approach. If you’re running 400 meters, try to run both 200 meters at same pace.
What you do during the rest period isn't going to have as dramatic an effect as the length of the rest…so don’t obsess over having to jog. Walk it out if you need to and mentally prepare to tackle that next interval.
So there you have it-- Start easy, Establish a baseline, Follow the build up interval/decrease rest in alternating weeks and Focus on the effort part of each interval/tempo run….not so much on what you’re doing during the rest period (jog or walk) As long as that rest period is decreasing as you move along your training program.
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