Fast, then slow, or short, then long – that’s the simplest explanation of what interval training is all about. Fast running intervals are alternated with slow recovery phases (jogging), and the intervals can be measured either by time (e.g. 1 min sprinting and 2 min jogging) or by distance (e.g. 100 m sprinting and 200 m jogging). As a rule of thumb: The ratio between the fast sprint and recovery phases should be 1:2. So if you always jog for at least twice as long as you sprint, then everything will be ok.

Who is interval training suitable for?

In general: Interval training should only be tackled by runners who can run continuously for at least half an hour without any problems. If you are not there yet, you will have to work on your basic training. If you can complete the 30 minutes easily, then you can begin interval training. It is best to integrate interval training into classic running training. For amateurs, the intervals should be no more than 10 percent of the overall running training, but for marathon runners and triathletes it can be 15 percent.

Marie and Canto while running along the river in Kaprun

How to start interval training successfully

First of all, it is important to allow enough time. As with any training, there should be a warm-up at the beginning and a cool-down including stretching at the end. After the final sprint, you should jog slowly for at least another ten minutes to allow the body and, above all, the heart rate, to return to a near-resting state. If you begin your training in a gym, you can usually choose from various interval training programmes on the treadmill. Track runners should measure the distances for the sprint and recovery phases. To start with, 200 and 400 metre sections work well. It is important that you develop a feeling for speed and distance. Until you have done so, measurement is important.

checking time and heart rate while running

Do I really need a trainer for this?

The simple answer is: yes and no. Running novices and runners beginning interval training can certainly benefit from good advice from a coach. A structured, step-by-step training plan with sprint and recovery phases adjusted to your actual performance leads to success more quickly and prevents overstraining or injuries.

The training plans for beginners, advanced runners and professional runners are significantly different – so how you train does matter. Professional runners who also monitor their heart rate themselves can increase their power and endurance through interval training even without guidance.

What should I do – endurance running or interval training?

The motto is: do the one and don’t stop the other. The combination of interval training and classic endurance running is a real burner of fat cells. During endurance running, the body is trained to nibble away at its own fat reserves. Interval training, on the other hand, increases calorie consumption significantly, step by step–the body suddenly requires 50 percent more energy! And the best part: The afterburn effect, which is otherwise only attributed to strength training, is very strong with interval training. While you recover from running, your body steadily continues to burn lots of calories. So if you want to lose weight, you’ll be in the fast lane with the power duo of endurance running and interval training.

Marie sprinting

To put it in a nutshell: This is what interval training really does for you

Sports medical examinations have shown that interval training is four times more effective than normal endurance training.With interval training, you can achieve the desired results more quickly and with less time. Through the alternation of sprinting and jogging, the body receives new stimuli and reacts positively. Interval training is ideal for preparing for competitions and marathons. If you want to lose weight, you can do so more quickly with interval training.

What are the alternatives to interval training?

If rigid time or distance targets are too boring for you in the long run, you can structure your training to be more diverse and less time-dependent. However, the requirements for this are a certain amount of practice and a feeling for the right balance between the sprint and recovery phases. With alternative training that is oriented towards local and geographical conditions, fast and slow sections can be combined however you want. Integrating hill sprints is particularly effective: run up a hill quickly and back down it slowly the same way, then continue on your chosen route.

Adidas Trailrunning Marie beim Laufen auf den Keilberg

What do I have to consider in regards to running equipment?

Consider exactly where you wish to complete your running and interval training. Whether indoors or outdoors, on a track or over hill and dale: choosing the right running shoes is decisive in how much you enjoy the sport. From the runner’s height and weight to the preferred terrain, many factors play a role in the recommendation of running shoes. Talk to our running shoe experts in our stores and book a running analysis for the perfect fit.

running shoes