Running a marathon, training for a triathlon, or just want to increase your fitness? It’s not all about slogging it out on the treadmill or spending hours pedalling on a bike. Any personal trainer will tell you that interval training is key to increasing your stamina and endurance. It involves combining short, high energy burst of speed, with a slower, recovery phase, repeated several times during one session. Runners also refer to interval training as “Fartleks”.
How does it work?
During the high intensity session, the anaerobic system in your body uses energy stores in the muscles, producing lactic acid and leading to ‘oxygen debt’. Then, in the recovery phase, your body breaks down the lactic acid, repaying the oxygen debt. This trains he body to burn lactic acid more effectively, meaning you can exercise for longer without getting tired.
Interval training helps build up your speed, endurance and fitness. It also helps prevent injury, as your are getting fitter without logging in those long hours at the gym that can lead to muscle and
joint pain. High intensity sessions have also been proven to burn more calories than longer, slower training sessions.
Of course, starting any high intense workout is not without risks. Speak to a personal trainer for tips on getting started – how many intervals to include, how long to make your session, and which pace to use if you are training on a treadmill. Make sure you warm up before starting your session, and go at a realistic pace in the fast session – you should be running faster than normal at a pace that’s not easy to maintain, but not so fast you can’t breathe! When increasing difficult of the session, choose either duration or speed – don’t increase both at the same time. And try and do one high energy session a week – don’t over-do it!