My First Running Interval Session

Last week, Week 2 of my 16-week Brighton Half marathon training plan saw my first EVER interval session in my (short) running career.

My first interval training session - running

I was a little nervous.

So I turned to Twitter, and the amazing group of running friends I have for advice. Here are some of their words of wisdom that they sent me to bolster my confidence and reassure me that my legs could handle it!

It’ll take one or two sessions till you find a pace you can maintain through the session, don’t go all out at first” Bea Schaer (my running coach) @BeCoolRunning

From what I have learnt just try & keep it consistent, don’t burn out on the first 500m & struggle on the 3rd set! Remember deep breaths, fast feet and use those arms!” Charlie @ziggy_brown

It’s better to be a few seconds slower and finish all of the repeats” Ashley @healthyhappier

My first interval training session - running

Why are interval sessions good for runners?

The idea behind interval sessions is to improve the efficiency of the oxygen delivery system to your muscles.  By repeating hard sustained efforts, you improve your ability to run hard without going into oxygen debt. It also builds your ability to recover quicker in between the sets.Interval sessions also increase endurance, so you can maintain a certain pace for a longer period of time, as well as building muscle strength. Typically long distance running focuses on slow-twitch muscles fibres, so running at faster speeds utilises different muscles, improves flexibility during running and results in improved muscle performance in races, and the ability to have an awesome sprint finish!

The result over time will be measurable improvements in speed, endurance, and efficiency- or so I hope!

My first interval session:

1k warm-up
500m fast, 250m recover x3
750m cool-down

I chose to do my first session along the river from Surbiton to Kingston- it’s an area I know well near my workplace, and has a convenient flat wide towpath. There are also life-buoys at regular intervals which act as handy markers! Provided I didn’t knock any walkers into the river in my haste it seemed perfect!
My first interval training session - running

I discovered that the TomTom Runner Cardio had an interval setting, which buzzed at me usefully when I was supposed to run fast/slow etc. However, once I uploaded the data to MySports (the TomTom online database) there were no paces for each interval, merely an average pace as you would usually get for a simple distance run. I was rather disappointed!

I used their graph to try and calculate my average pace just for interest sake, but it’s not very accurate! I believe there is a work-around by using the manual lap function and pressing it at the end of each interval, but it’s not ideal.

L1: 8:34min/mile
L2: 8:43min/mile
L3: ~9min/mile

I definitely got slower through the 3 sets, as expected, so I need to work on finding a speed that I can maintain for all the intervals, but I’m pretty happy with my first attempt! It was definitely hard work- 500m has never felt so long!- but I was actually quite surprised with how fast I managed to run. Speedy for me anyway 🙂

My first interval training session - running

Do you incorporate interval training into your training plans? Any suggestions for how to record my paces better? I also have a Garmin FR10 which I will have a look at to see if that would be more helpful than the TomTom.

Beki x

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