5 Interval Running Workouts for Speed

If you want to improve your running speed, then interval training is the way to go.

In fact, interval training (HIIT) has been used by athletes for years to build cardiovascular strength, power, and explosive speed.

HIIT combines short and intense bursts of exercise at maximum ability, with recovery phases, repeated throughout a single workout.

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you five of my favorite interval running workouts to build endurance and speed.

To make these workouts efficient, step out of your comfort zone. In other words, make sure to push yourself, challenging your body as hard as possible.

Note: Before we proceed, remember that HIIT is super challenging. So it’s crucial to develop enough fitness (or get a green light from a certified physician) before jumping on the interval training track.

In fact, if you’re a complete beginner runner, none of your workouts should be an interval session. Instead, focus on building your base, and in a few months, you’ll have what it takes to rock HIIT.

5 Interval Running Workouts for Speed

without further ado, here are the HIIT running routines you need

Workout I – The Basic Interval Run Workout

If you have never tried interval training before, start here.

The basic workout is ideal for new initiates as it helps them get their foot in the door without increasing the risk of injury or burnouts.

This speed workout is also ideal if you’re looking for a simple, easy to follow training recipe that works every time. Sure, it’s naïve to expect to be good at speed training from the get-go, but this routine is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

A Beginner-friendly interval running workout may look like this.

First, start with a thorough 10-minute dynamic warm-up of jogging, and dynamic exercises. Check this routine here.

Once you feel ready to go, complete six to eight 30-second moderate-to-intense intervals, resting between each until breathing returns to a regular rate.

Pace matters. So, be sure to run each interval at the same speed, aiming for a 6 to 8 RPE (rate of perceived exertion) on a scale of 1 to 10.

As soon as you feel recovered, repeat the next 30-second high-intensity burst.

Stop, or dial it down, as soon as you feel muscle stiffness or any annoying discomfort that won’t go away.  Pain is usually a sign that you’re doing something wrong. Hence, listen to your body and re-adjust accordingly.

Finish your session with a 10-minute cool-down of easy walking, then perform a post-run stretch routine like this one.

Workout II – The Fartlek Bursts

Standing for speed play in Swedish, Fartlek is a form of training that mixes steady-state running with speed intervals in an unstructured format.

The pace and distance of each acceleration, as well as the recovery, is entirely up to you. You, basically, jog, run, or sprint for any distance or length of time, and in the order you want.

Doing so, according to most experts, strengthens both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems—all of which can help turn you into a superb runner.

Here is the routine:

Start your Fartlek workout with a 10 to 15 minutes jog as a warm-up to ensure that your muscles are warmed enough to handle the surges.

Then play with speed by running at faster paces for short periods of time, followed by easy-effort jogging as recovery.

The best way to get on with Fartlek training is to pick out an object or landmark ahead of you, like a parked car, telephone pole, or a house, then run at a fast speed until you reach it. Next, recover, sight the next object, etc. So on and so forth.

Be sure to run fast enough to increase your heart rate and breathe harder, but do not push it too hard where you can no longer finish the interval or recover fully in time for the next surge.

Workout III – The Treadmill Interval Workout

Only got 25 minutes? Then you have enough time to hop on the treadmill and try this HIIT 25-minute routine.

During this routine, you’ll not only alternate between challenging bursts of effort and lighter recovery phases but also change the incline, which pushes your body to work even harder.

Here is the routine

Step 1

Start with a 5-minute jog at a moderate pace to warm up.

Step 2

At the 5-minute mark, pick a “high-intensity speed of 9 mph (or faster) then stick to it for one minute. Keep in mind that it will take, on average, 10 to 15 seconds for the treadmill to work up to the chosen speed.

Step 3

Recover and rest for one minute.

Step 4

Repeat Step 2 but add a 4.0 incline to mimic outdoor running conditions. Then walk or jog for one minute to recover.

Step 5

Repeat Step 4 for five or six rounds for a total of 15 minutes, including the high-intensity bursts and recovery.

Step 6

Finish the workout with a 5-minute cool-down.

Workout IV – The Hill Workout

Once you have a solid base of aerobic power and speed, take things up a notch with hill training.

Braving the hills increases muscle power, tones the lower body, and pushes the lungs like nothing else.

Not only that, when compared to the flat surface of a track, hills place less impact on the legs, which reduces the odds of injury.

The Ideal Hill

When starting out, stick with short intervals in the range of 30 to 60 seconds on a low-to-moderate grade hill—ideally 5 to 7 percent. Then jog or walk back down the hill for recovery.

By doing so, you can perform more reps with proper form, reaping all the benefits that hill training has to offer.

The Ideal Session

After a 10-minute jog on a flat surface, complete six to eight 30-seconds moderate to intense intervals, then walk back down the hill for recovery.

Your RPE should be around 8 to 9 on a scale of 1 to 10—especially once you’re about to reach the top of the hill.

Just keep your climbing pace steady and under control the entire time. Readjust your pace if you find that you’re speeding up or slowing down as you near the end of the hill.

Over time, progress to six to eight one-minute near all-out-effort intervals, train on steeper hills, or add extra reps.

Workout V – The 100m Dashes

If you want to feel (and run) like a pro sprinter, then hit the track. But be careful. Do this only after interval workouts and fartleks have become a part of your routine.

Before you go full speed, warm up with a 10-minute jog, then perform six to eight strides to get your muscles fired up and ready to do some intense work.

Next, perform eight to ten 100m fast bursts. Your first interval should include 40 meters at maximum speed.

To recover, walk or jog for half the duration of the faster interval before jumping onto the next one.

Aim for 95 to 99 percent of single max effort. So, for instance, if your 100-m max effort is 18 seconds, then the slowest you drop to 20 seconds.

As you get used to track training, increase the volume of reps and lengthen reps to 200 meters, sprinting nearly the entire time at top speed.

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David Dack

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