Running My First Interval Workout

Runner's legs and feet stretched out on the ground.

A couple weeks ago, I started a training block aimed at improving my 5k time.

For the first two weeks, my focus was on developing top end speed through repetition workouts – short intervals with long periods of rest. Now that I’m in the third week, it’s time to start transitioning to longer intervals and more sustained periods of running.

So yesterday I set out to do my first interval workout – as defined by Jack Daniels.

The initial workout I planned was 5x800m with a short recovery jog in between. I wasn’t sure how long to make the recovery period, but I found some suggestions of 400m or so. I converted this to time and decided to start with a 3:00 minute recovery jog, which is enough to cover slightly more than a quarter mile.

So how’d it go?

Reflections on my First Interval Workout

I ran this workout at the Orange Reservoir Loop, the same place I did my repetition workout.

I warmed up like usual with an easy mile jog to the loop, some leg swings and lunges, some drills, and some strides. Altogether, the warm up was between 1.5 and 2 miles. It was a little chilly out, and I almost regretted not wearing my gloves, but my body warmed up a little by the time I finished my warm up.

I set up the workout on my Garmin watch with an intensity target of 7:00 to 7:30/mi. I wanted to target about 7:15/mi to start, and I’d see how things go. Ultimately, I’d like to run my 5k at around 7:00/mi to finish in 21:xx.

On the first interval, I had a little trouble finding the pace. I sped up too fast, then I dropped a bit, and I settled in to a pace that was a little under 7:00/mi. The next two went better, and after going out a little too fast I managed to hone in on 7:15/mi for the bulk of the interval. On the fourth interval, I could feel myself tiring a bit and I struggled to hold the pace. But I finished strong in the final interval, holding a 7:00/mi or better pace for the bulk of it and kicking a bit in the last 100m.

The pace varied quite a bit within the intervals, but if you look at the actual splits they were fairly consistent. My target was 3:30 (7:00/mi) to 3:07 (7:15/mi), and the splits were 3:32, 3:35, 3:29, 3:33, and 3:24. So they were more or less within the target range.

Throughout the workout, I felt good. Towards the end of one or two of the intervals, I was feeling a bit winded, but I wasn’t dying out. I was able to finish strong in all five intervals, including the kick in the last one. It is interesting to note, though, that my pace in the recovery period got significantly slower as the workout went on.

The first recovery period I jogged at 9:45/mi and the last two were almost at 11:00/mi.

Next Steps

Over the next few weeks, I’ll keep doing an interval workout like this. I have two more weeks of repetition workouts, before I swap those out for tempo runs targeting lactate threshold to develop my endurance.

I think this was a great baseline workout, and I’m in good enough general shape to hit my goal. The challenge over the next five weeks will be to solidify my performance over the intervals and reduce the amount of recovery needed. I have five interval workouts left, and my plan is to a) increase the volume, b) improve the pace, and c) reduce the recovery.

In the final workout, I want to do 5x1000m. I think over the next two weeks I’ll step up the volume to 6x800m, and then for the last three I’ll go to 5x1000m.

In terms of the pace, I want to try and hit slightly below 7:00/mi in the final workout. I’ll probably try to hone in on 7:00/mi next week. If anything, I’ll try to bring the final intervals slightly below 7:00/mi (but not below 6:45/mi).

Finally, I noticed that the recovery period felt a bit long. I think I’m going to cut it down to 2:30 moving forward. I might cut it down to 2:00 by the end, if I’m feeling strong at 5x1000m and able to hold the pace.

Running My First Interval Workout

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