Interval runs are hard. Yes, I know, things that are hard, and that push you, make you better, stronger, faster, and more resilient. But even knowing this, I still dread set time (or set distance) interval runs. If I make a plan, then I have to stick to it – otherwise I will feel like a failure. But two rounds into a 5-set interval run, and my mind chirps, you’re not even half way done – I’ve got no smile left in me.
And I like to smile, because I think somewhere inside of us – in our minds – that our smile can influence our mood. In the latest issue of Runners World, there was an article which touched on the topic of facial feedback. If you smile, you will be happy (or happier). It talked about this experiment where people held a pen in their mouth and forced a smile, then they watched cartoons, those with the forced smile found the cartoons funnier than those without the pen forcing their smile. Interesting. So, your mood can make your smile, but your smile can also make your mood 🙂 .
But all that’s out the window when I’m running intervals, even if I try to smile, I think it’s actually a grimace. In fact, I was running in Bushy Park and I ran past some people during a particularly gruelling interval and I actually heard them say, “oh by why would you put yourself through such torture”. And that’s what people see when they see me running intervals 😦 , inflicting torture upon myself, and actually putting people off running, nice one Caroline.
I like* going to a group interval sessions, like my local SweatShop Running Community Thursday night run. I don’t know what the intervals will be beforehand, so I can’t work myself up into a frenzy, thinking I will hate it, especially as I don’t even know what we are doing before we arrive. Each week it is something different, and it’s often more inventive than my repetitive intervals sessions that I do on my own, yet has more structure than a fartlek, which I might subtly shorten, adjust as the going gets tough.
*I don’t really like it, but it’s better to do it in a group of nice people all suffering together.
Anyways, here are some interval sessions to try that I have done recently, on my own and in groups.
Modified Fartlek – Sprint like a high school track star
5 KM run, and in the last KM in between stop signs I ran 90-95% capacity, and then jogged to the next one. It felt good to stretch my legs and feel a proper sprint like the old high school track and field days, but the distance was short enough and the end was in sight to keep it enjoyable. And as I could see ahead too all the stop signs, I couldn’t shorten or adjust the fartlek.
Sweatshop Intervals – Threes, twos, then one last three
1.5 KM warm up, then 3 minutes hard, 1 minute walk x 4, then 2 minutes hard, 30 seconds walk x 4, then a final 3 minutes hard, 1 minute walk, followed up by a 1.5 KM cool down. The 3-minute interval roughly worked out to one lap of the cricket pitch, so rather than clock watching we just wanted to better the lap each time. As I was with my son for this one, we broke the pitch down into quarters and worked each quarter of the pitch like an accelerator, 25% power, 50% power, 75% power, full speed for last quarter and go all out.
3 Slightly hellish 1 KM intervals
3-minute warm up, then 1KM fast, 2 minutes jog in between x 3, 3-minute cool down. I find this one quite tough, but I am enjoying using this short session as a bit of a benchmark. I’ve done it twice now, and am keen to see how I improve on it.
What types of interval training runs do you do? What do you love/hate? Can you always squeeze out a legitimate smile, no matter how touch the workout?