Intervals

Please keep my beautiful friend, Sarah, and her family in your prayers.  Her adorable 4 month old son, Jack, is undergoing surgery today.  You can read about her son and what he’s going through here.

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If you look at my marathon training plan, it’s a mix between being extremely detailed and very vague.  The long runs, types of workouts each week, and target weekly mileage is pretty black and white.  I know what I want to get done each week and I try hard not to deviate from that.  I run six days a week with three of those being quality days – long, 2x speed (either intervals, tempo, SS, LT) – and the other three being easy/recovery days. The workouts for the speed days are left blank.

I don’t believe that I have to do the same speed workout every single week.  It’s boring.  I like the variety of changing it up every week (or every few weeks). Intervals and tempo one week.  Intervals and steady state another week.  I typically decide what my plan is for the week after my long run (based on how I’m feeling) but have changed my mind the night before or even the morning of the workout.  However, I often do one interval workout a week.

I don’t think there is such a thing as a wrong speed workout for me right now.  I’m still working on regaining my speed post-baby and as long as I’m pushing myself and hitting the times I shoot for, speed workouts will only help prepare me for my spring marathon.

My speed workouts each week are the day that I go hard.  Easy runs are easy paced.  Long runs are comfortably paced.  Speed days are my hardest days of the week and closest to an all-out effort (I never got 100% all out).  Going hard on speed days is what got me from a 3:54 for my 1st marathon to a 3:22 for my 2nd marathon (despite doing only 1x 18 and 20 miler in training).  My 32 minute improvement was not a result of taking it easy on speed days.

I’ve been asked what type of intervals I do and what I recommend.  Below is a summary of how I approach interval days:

  • Pace: I use McMillan’s Calculator to give me an idea of what my pace should be for each distance (I select the speedster option since I do better with shorter distances)
  • Recovery: I mix an active recovery with a rest period for almost all of the longer distances (unless I’m doing Yasso 800s).  I jog a 400m recovery (~2:15) after 800m-3200m repeats + a rest of ~30 sec to drink water, wipe the sweat off, and stretch anything that feels tight.  This may not be the recommended way of doing interval workouts, but it works for me.  This is the way I’ve always done it.  Interval days are a way to get my legs used to moving faster than I let them move every other day of the week.
  • I aim for each repeat to be faster than the previous one (easier to do on the treadmill).  This forces me to not start too fast and finish strong.  Ending the day with your fastest repeat is a huge confidence booster.
  • I love doing intervals on the treadmill.  It forces me to run at the pace I want.  There is no other option when you are on the treadmill.  You either run that pace or you fall off.

Below are some workouts I incorporate into my training plan – these are just an idea of some of the types of speed workouts you can do:

And thanks to Ali and Ashley for their favorite speed workouts which are included above!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and stay safe/clear of Nemo!!!

This was all over FB last night

What is your favorite speed workout?

Are you in the path of Nemo?  Has snow begun falling by you? 

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    21 thoughts on “Intervals

    1. Thank you for this! I love intervals in general but have been trying to figure out some more interesting intervals aside from just time-based ones. Can I tell you that this makes me excited to really run again?? PS – that picture of Nemo cracks me up. I’m SO glad that we escaped and I hope that you guys are enjoying the snow. xox
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: StrongMy Profile

    2. I am excited to be incorporating speed training into a training plan for the first time. Reading about it gets me excited to know that it’s going to be successful and it’s going to help me get faster. I’m glad to know I can do some on the treadmill. For some reason a few months ago I got this idea in my head that running on the TM wasn’t as good as running outside. I don’t know what made me think that, but seeing yours and SOO many other bloggers running on TMs with great success, I was clearly being delusional. Good luck with Nemo! I hope you keep power. And awesome
      meghan recently posted..Friday’s LettersMy Profile

    3. Love this post, Michele! I’m pinning your interval tips… I approach my training very much like you, with flexibility each week on what the interval workouts will look like. Although, I haven’t been able to run 6 days without injury so I do much more cross training. Your training is off to such a great start- I’m so excited for you and your upcoming races!!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..No Bake Healthy BrowniesMy Profile

    4. Great post thank you!!! I prefer super fast 400s, but have just started bumping up to 800s since I’m consistently running longer distances now. I usually give myself a 400m to recover, walk at a slow pace (on the TM) grab water and breathe before taking off on the next one. Like you – I’ve found that doing them on the TM is sooo much easier to control the pace. On my own I am still loosey goosey all over the place when left up to my own devices.
      beka @ rebecca roams recently posted..#RecipeFriday – Light Mac N’ CheeseMy Profile

      • Hehe…I didn’t know what they were for a while other than being distances on the track!!! =) So glad it helped! Hope you have a beautiful weekend – stay safe up there!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..IntervalsMy Profile

    5. Love the speed breakdown image:) This will help me a lot when i start seriously training again after my little guy arrives! I like your tip about not really giving it training wise until 6-8 weeks! So smart. And i will keep this in mind as well as listening to my body. I sure hope im as lucky as you and can start running again a week later! Fingers crossed. But i also will keep in mind not to be hard on myself if i cant. It all depends on my body and the little man:)

      I already have 2 races planned for when i make my come back…one i dont really plan on racing per say as its in June…its a fun relay…so nothing serious:) I put my pace down as very modest so i dont pressure myself and push too hard! And then i dont plan on running my PR breaking half until Sept 22nd…so lots of time to get speedy and beat my current PR of 1:55:27. While i am enjoying pregnancy so much i can’t wait to start really training again. I have been having running dreams lately where im no longer pregnant, lol.

      Not too much longer! Countdown is on. 5 weeks until due date!

    6. I am currently 20 weeks pregnant and was training for Boston prior to pregnancy. My mileage and pace have decreased majorly : (
      I am looking at post birth races to keep my chin up. How long after birth did you begin training?

      • Jenn! Congrats on pregnancy!! My mileage and pace decreased during pregnancy too – but you are still running which is amazing =)
        I had a very easy L&D and started running about a week after. But I didn’t start training for anything until he was ~6-8 weeks. Up until then, all of my runs were pretty easy paced and lower mileage (I did 1x 10 miler when he was 5 wks old). But no speedwork or runs longer than that until he was about 7 wks…I didn’t feel like my body was ready to start pushing hard until that point!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..IntervalsMy Profile

    7. I think your training looks smart and solid–just what you need for an awesome spring marathon! The fact that you do so much of this on the treadmill just makes you that much tougher mentally, too. Can’t wait to see what your marathon time is this spring (plus I can tell you that all my best races were in the two years post babies–bonus blood?).

      I really love tempo runs the most. They can be so hard, but I feel like I get the most bang for my buck out of them.

      Good luck with Nemo! We are just getting rain, but the weather wimps around here called a two-hour delay for that–insane!
      misszippy1 recently posted..Into the woodsMy Profile

    8. I’m loving this interval chart you put together! I’m the same way, I have a designated speed day and a tempo day, but I don’t decide the specifics until I’m literally on the treadmill. Sometimes I change my mind 5 times during the warm-up. Somedays I really want to go fast for shorter distances, and others (when I’m feeling mentally tough) will be for the longer repeats. And I usually don’t rest more than 400m either. When I was racing in school that’s all we did, and when I’ve tried 800m I feel like it’s just too much time. Stay safe and warm this weekend! The snow isn’t sticking much here in the city, but it sure looks nasty out there!
      Ashley recently posted..Rylan 11 Month SummaryMy Profile

    9. I love the Nemo storm image!

      It is already snowing lightly here in NH and it looks like it will be a big one this time. I’m happy to have the day off work, but bummed that my Saturday morning run will probably not happen with my running partner.
      AmyC recently posted..Fitness Friday: Some New FavoritesMy Profile

    10. love your blog! i just started my speedwork for the season. i’ve done yasso 800s and they are tough but such a great workout!

    11. “There is no other option when you are on the treadmill. You either run that pace or you fall off.” LOL, so funny, and so true! I also run my intervals on the treadmill, much easier than trying to do them outside, I don’t have a track I can use.
      I’m in Northern NJ, and no snow/rain yet, but Northern NJ Weather Authority is predicting 20-26″ of snow, yikes!
      Amy @Honey Badger Runs recently posted..Winter storm preparation, Badger styleMy Profile

    12. I always do my intervals on the treadmill, too, for the same reason. Yasso 800s are so amazing for getting marathon ready, definitely a fave of mine if I’m training for a marathon. I also base the pace of my runs on the McMillan calculator, but I also pay attention to my heart rate monitor to make sure I’m not going too hard on an easy day if my body is just off that day.