Why do we run brisk intervals on Day 1? Interval training (change-of-pace running) is a combination of increased effort (brisk intervals) and recovery periods (walking or running lightly to recover). In order to increase your body’s capacity to distribute oxygen and improve your muscle endurance, you need to work a bit to elevate your heart rate and muscular effort. The result will be teaching your body and mind to run briskly, so that when you settle back down to your own personal (talking) pace, you will be more comfortable and relaxed.
The brisk interval runs are NOT a sprint! No huffin’and puffin’ out of control! Just focus on your arm action to increase your cadence and turnover to just above a talking pace. No strain, okay? You’ll become more efficient (and faster) as you become fitter. It truly helps to focus on your arm action. Pump those arms forward and back during those intervals and your legs will follow. Relax and slow your arm action, and your pace will ease off comfortably as you recover. We are working to find your rhythm at different intervals and this takes time.
How do you run the recovery intervals in between the brisk intervals on Day 1? The 2-minute recoveries are your own – you’ll likely find you need to walk a bit just after your brisk intervals, and then you’ll move into an easy peazy shuffle jog as you feel, so that you're ready to increase your pace again for the next brisk interval. Do what feels comfortable for you. What’s important is that the brisk intervals are faster than your recoveries.
If you are running steady for the suggested volumes on Days 2 & 3, that’s great as long as it’s not a struggle. If you are struggling with your steady running at any time, then switch it up with 10-and-1s as you feel. Your easy talking pace running is not meant to be a struggle.
If 10-and-1s are still a struggle, then please be kind to yourself and opt for the Run Easy program instead – even if it means you are repeating it, okay? Your starting point will be different than it was when you first began.
In Sessions 2 and 3, we will slowly be increasing your total running time to build to the 5K or 10K distance. If you are happy and comfortable doing “Magical" 10-and-1s (1.e. 10 minutes of running alternated with 1 minute of walking), then stay with it as you feel. Many people run marathons with 10-and-1s. Either way, if you're new to the program, choose the lesser volume option for 5K preparation and choose the longer option for 10K preparation.
Remember our goal for this program is to build your efficiency and comfort level with running steady. Using brisk intervals, I guarantee you'll be able to complete a 5K or 10K more efficiently and comfortably than ever before by the end of these next 8 weeks. For some of you, that may mean you run faster than you ever have before. But may I kindly remind you… depending on your “vintage," sometimes “maintaining” your best times actually means running faster!