Benefits of Interval Training (or Fartleks)

The training program I am following in preparation for running a Marathon has quite a few intervals training (or Fartlek) sessions with a big run once a week.  Now I figure that intervals must be good for me – because they aren’t easy.. you know “no pain, no gain” but are they really?

Well all the research I have conducted suggests that they are beneficial for the endurance runner ( I was kinda hoping that they weren’t).  The key benefits seem to be:

  • increase in cardiovascular efficiency
  • increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid
  • improved performance
  • greater speed and endurance
  • reduction in injuries caused by repetition (and for someone who suffers from ITB issues this is important – but I’ll save my tips managing ITB issues for another post)
  • reduces the likelihood of burnout whilst lifting intensity; and
  • you burn more calories!!!!  Booyah!

So all in all, it seems that there is little downside for including interval training.  Except of course the pain and stress of sprinting or running at speed for lengthy periods – let’s be honest it’s not the most enjoyable way to run.  However, as I have mentioned – my golden retriever enjoys interval running so there is an added benefit….. for her.

Tomorrow morning is 4 x 1km intervals with a 1minute 30second standing rest in between.  I think my challenge will be achieving a difference in speed between my “speed” run and “normal” run that is noticeably different; especially the 4th interval run.

So when the breathing becomes laboured; and the legs are aching and fatigue is setting in, I’m just going to keep reminding myself that – it is doing me more good than harm and that there is only 3 months to go until the GC Marathon – so suck it up!

Happy running.

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