Why do I find interval training such hard work?

As part of my HM training plan, I seem to have an Interval run every Wednesday. I dutifully do them, but do find them hard work. Today's started with ten minutes at an easy pace, followed by five repetitions of five minutes at threshold pace with a one minute recovery run. As I was doing it, I was pondering why it felt such hard work. It seems counterintuitive, because not only is the average pace fairly modest compared to a Parkrun, or even the five mile race I did the other Sunday, but the "fast" sections weren't particularly fast, either.

Anyone else find it the same?

Today's torture - connect.garmin.com/modern/a...


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13 Replies

  • Interesting - I am just back from doing speed podcast, which is of course much shorter. I don't think I could do even three minutes at Laura's 165bpm speed, but my speed during those short intervals is definitely faster than my park run speed.

    How fast are your threshold runs? I'll have a look on Garmin connect.....

  • Yes. I find them to be really hard even if the 'fast' intervals are at a pace which is manageable over a much longer distance.

    In my case, I think it is just a case of being able to sustain a decent level of effort at a constant rhythm but being pretty rubbish when that rhythm is interrupted.

  • I also did the c25k+ speed podcast this morning, which although different to what you're doing, 60 seconds of 150bpm (beats per min) followed by 60 seconds of 165bpm, repeated about 8 times, I also struggled disproportionately more than I thought I should. My average pace was much slower than my usual pace. Also, as it was shorter than I expected and I was 2.5km from home when it finished, I ran the rest of the way back home, i.e. the same distance, 2 mins faster. This shows that I definitely had it in me to run faster quite comfortably, but that something about the speed podcast was making it harder for my body to get there. So I've been trying to find out why this is too. I've been reading around a bit and ended up at the Wikipedia page for anaerobic exercise. The 'Fox and Haskell' chart on the right hand side of the page shows that above 160pm you are doing anaerobic exercise. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaer... I'm happy to be corrected, but is the point of the speed podcast then that we switch between aerobic and anaerobic running, thus training our bodies to run better in the anaerobic zone? Or training us to combine aerobic and anaerobic running in our technique? Steve, does this help at all re the type of intervals that you're doing for your HM training?

  • I think that's part of the idea, Ruth. It's also exercising the heart and training the body to recover faster.

  • Is the recovery when you run at a slower pace different to the recovery when you walk following a run? I think it's more of a switch than a recovery, or you're recovering from anaerobic running but while still doing aerobic running. I think the switch between different running paces doesn't give you a full recovery in the same way as a walk/run does.

  • I think recovering with a slow run rather than a walk is another part of lifting your body's performance. Personally, I think starting running again after walking to recover would be much harder than from a gentle run.

  • Another question...do you just time yourself, set intervals on Garmin or do you have a programme/podcast for this?

    I know I can set intervals on my Garmin, but haven't tried it yet.

  • I turn off autolap on my Garmin and just watch the time, keying a lap at each transition point.

  • Steve -- what is your 5K PB or, more importantly, current 5K time??

    I am an advocate of Jack Daniel's training -- like other trainers he has a Tempo/threshhold pace and an Interval pace. Both of these paces are dependent on CURRENT (not PB) 5K time. There is approx 30 seconds difference between T & I pace, T being the slower. His plans usually have only a 1 minute "rest" between longer 1k - 1mile T paced repeats but he has 2-3 minute "rests" between shorter I paced intervals.

    I am thinking that perhaps you are pacing too fast during these intervals or maybe not enough rest between each run. ??

    I am obviously no running trainer - but I have to wonder about the need for interval training for a first time half marathon ( assuming it is your first??)

  • Hi, Bazza. Currently I'm running Parkrun in around 29:30. The interval runs are called for by the Garmin HM training plan I'm following. I do find it difficult to guage the pace I should be running for the threshold segments of the runs.

    Yes, my first HM. I'm probably pushing myself quite hard (40km+ per week), though I think I'm keeping a careful eye on signs of overdoing it too much.

  • Perhaps not a very scientific question/answer: aren't you finding running intervals hard work because running intervals is unanimously... hard work?

  • That's what I was wanting to hear!

  • Yes, I found them hard. Always

    Beginning to wish I'd never done them since being sidelined with shin splints, which is down to overuse.

    I'd go easy. It struck me that we can do the distance by degrees and get fitter whilst doing so. If we are fitter then we can turn the speed on on the home straight. That will be my plan if I ever get off the ruddy bench

    Just take care

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