Many runners have a love-hate relationship with interval training. Whether you love it or hate it, there are many interval training benefits for runners, including being able to run faster for longer.
If you have been running consistently for the last few months but you’re not seeing any improvements in your running times, then interval training may just be the secret to unlock your next PB.
Interval training is basically a training method that combines periods of short, intense bursts of speed with slow recovery periods of mild activity like walking or jogging.
If practiced regularly as part of a structured training plan, interval training can help to improve your speed, strength and endurance as a runner.
In this post, I’d like to look at 6 key interval training benefits for runners.
Of course, interval training isn’t the only way to improve your speed, strength and endurance, but it is certainly one of the most popular in the running community.
Running intervals: Interval training benefits for runners
They’re great if you’re short on time
Interval training can be considered as one of the most efficient forms of cardio and can deliver benefits much more quickly than typical cardio workouts such as a long run.
So if you’re short on time, or don’t feel like going for a long run, then interval training is a perfect way to fit in a run and a workout.
Most interval training sessions last anything from between 5 to 30 minutes depending on how many intervals you are doing.
Just be sure to adjust the intensity of the session according to your fitness levels. If you’re a beginner runner, then shorter bursts of running with a longer recovery time are best.
Check out my post on how to fit a run into a busy schedule for more tips and tricks for running when you have a busy lifestyle.
They help you burn more calories
Many studies have shown that bursts of high intensity exercise are more effective than long, slow endurance exercise to help you burn calories and lose weight.
While there is no best way to lose weight through running, intense workouts like interval training are better for burning calories.
So if your goal with running is weight loss, then interval training might just be the option for you.
They add variation into your training plan
Although many runners swear by the long run to achieve their race goals, there’s a lot to be said for interval training in terms of adding a bit of variety into what could otherwise be a very boring training plan.
A solid training plan will include a mixture of easy runs, long runs and speedwork like interval training to get you where you need to be on race day.
So if you’re looking for something different and like the idea of mixing up your pace, then interval training is great for this.
Check out my post on how to keep running fun for more tips and advice.
They help to increase your speed and endurance
By far one of the biggest interval training benefits for runners is the positive impact it has on your speed and endurance.
As mentioned earlier, in order to increase your speed you need to be experimenting with different paces during your training.
Simply put, the more used you get to running at a faster speed during training, the more likely you will be able to perform on race day.
Interval training stimulates physiological changes in your body that can have positive effects on your endurance and stamina levels.
High intensity exercise, inside and outside of running, helps your body burn lactic acid more effectively, thus allowing you to exercise for longer before fatigue sets in.
Ultimately, interval training is considered one of the best ways to train your body to run faster and farther with more energy.
They help you become a more confident runner
Interval training benefits for runners are not just physical. There are many mental benefits of interval training that in turn do wonders for your running confidence.
Think about it: the more interval training you do, the more likely you are to be able to run faster for longer, including on race day, which brings nothing but positive vibes.
If you follow a structured training plan with speedwork like intervals included, you’ll be safe in the knowledge on race day that you’ve done all the necessary preparation to smash the race and achieve your next PB.
They do wonders for your cardiovascular health
High intensity training like interval training has many benefits for your cardiovascular health.
By cardiovascular, we mean anything related to your circulatory system, so your heart, lungs and the method by which oxygen gets transported around the body.
What does this mean in practical terms? Your heart becomes stronger and more efficient therefore increasing the amount of blood that it can pump per beat. The risk of heart disease and high blood pressure is also decreased.