Interval training to improve your running performance

Whether you are new to running or a seasoned racer, interval (otherwise known as Fartlek) training can be beneficial for improving your performance. Fartlek training was introduced by a Swedish running coach back in 1937 and has proven to be a useful tool for runners of all ability.For the newbie this type of training is a great way to build endurance. The idea is to alternate between easy and more difficult intervals. For example, if you are a beginner runner and would like to extend the duration of your run begin with either time or landmarks to mark your interval. Start with a 1:1 ratio for walking and running. If you are using landmarks, try one city block or telephone pole of running to the next one walking. If its timed intervals try 1 minute running to 1 minute brisk walking. As you begin to get more comfortable extend your running time and start to decrease your walk time, until you are able to run the entire time comfortably. Once that has been established you may want to think about adding more distance to your running route.

For the more seasoned athlete the Fartlek method is a great way to increase your racing speed. Begin your run with a nice gentle warm up and gradually build up to your moderate running pace (not race pace), then add sprint intervals, returning to your moderate pace in between for recovery. Fartlek should be a fun way to challenge yourself.  This type of program should begin with shorter sprint intervals and gradually build on the duration. If you are training to improve your personal best these workouts should alternate between tempo, long and hill runs for well-rounded development of your running abilities.

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