Beginner's Interval Running Workout

Young woman jogging on street with mp3 player, checking time
Intervals make it easy to progress your running ability. (Image: John Howard/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Interval training, which is characterized by periodic increases in effort followed by timed stretches of recovery, is a proven method for developing walkers into runners and improving overall running speed. Whether you’re new to running or new to interval training, you can combine speed and time variables to create hundreds of interval running workout options and continually advance your training to the next level.

Walk-Jog

Person using treadmill
If you want to learn how to run, use interval training to gradually build your running legs. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

If you want to learn how to run, use interval training to gradually build your running legs. In the beginning, your efforts are less about speed and more about proper running form and building the amount of time you can spend running before you need to recover. Warm up for five minutes, gradually taking your pace from moderate to brisk. Break into an easy jog for one minute, followed by two minutes of recovery walking at a brisk pace. Repeat the three minute cycle 10 times and cool down for five minutes, for a total of 40 minutes. Add or remove intervals to change the duration of your workout.

Walk-Run

Trainer and runner
Keep your total workout time around 30 minutes. (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Once you’re comfortable jogging for short periods of time, slowly begin to increase your pace during your intervals. Focus on improving your running form by keeping your shoulders back, your chest lifted, and bringing your knees higher. Walk briskly for a five minute warm-up. Run for 30 seconds followed by 90 seconds of speed walking. Repeat the interval cycle 10 times, followed by a five minute cool down, for a total of 30 minutes. Increase your run time in increments until you can run for two minutes with one minute recoveries. Keep your total workout time around 30 minutes.

Jog-Run

Man running across bridge, side view
f you run in the city, run the length of a block and recover for two. (Image: Janie Airey/Photodisc/Getty Images)

As you progress out of walking and into running intervals broken up by jogging recoveries, you might choose to take a break from timed intervals and instead use distance as your measurement. If you run in the city, run the length of a block and recover for two. You can use telephone poles for interval workouts on rural roads, which aren’t usually too far apart. If your intervals are too short from one pole to the next, run the distance between two or three poles. In the beginning, keep your recovery slightly longer than your interval. As you progress, increase interval distance while decreasing recovery distance.

Considerations

Use different interval methods to keep your workouts interesting at any stage in your development. If repeating the same intervals again and again for the duration of your workout quickly becomes routine, perform pyramid or ladder intervals. Pyramid intervals build and then return to the starting interval. An example of a pyramid interval would be to run for a one minute interval, a two minute interval and then a three minute interval, each followed by a one minute recovery. After the three minute interval, go back down to a two minute interval, and end with a one minute interval. Ladder intervals are similar, but instead of peaking and returning, the intervals steadily increase to the end of your workout.

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