Interval workout in an oval track or in a measured-loop course is one of the best ways to improve one’s speed in running. Whether you are training for the usual long distance runs from 3K to Marathon or even Ultra Marathon Races, a runner needs to incorporate speed workouts to his training program.
Having been absent in local races for the past months and weeks, I continued to do my LSDs on the roads, trails and mountains as I slowly recovered from my running-related injury. But my LSDs and peak-bagging feats made me a slower runner on the roads but made me a stronger runner on the trails.
For the past 3 weeks, I’ve started running again on city roads and I monitored my LSD pace for these runs. I’ve observed that I could run an average of 7.5K per hour speed which I think is an appropriate ultra marathon speed to finish an ultra distance within the prescribed cut-off time. But for a marathon pace, such speed is a “death march” pace to the finish!
I wanted to improve my speed to the range of 8-8.5K per hour and for me to get into that range of speed is to do some interval workout. I started doing my interval workout at the Philippine Army Grandstand/Parade Ground Jogging Lane. The course is flat, paved and it is approximately 1-kilometer loop (actually it lacks 3-5 meters which is very negligible). This is where I started doing my weekly 1K interval repeats in five (5) repetitions with 400-500 meters as walking breaks in between.
What is different and unique in my interval workouts is that I do it after one hour of snorkling/swimming at the Philippine Army Swimming Pool and it is usually done from 11:30-12:30 noon time. Yes, that’s how crazy I am in my present training. That is the reason why my skin is becoming darker everyday! (Note: One-half of the loop is partially shaded with trees)
My first week interval workout data gave me an average of 5:30 minutes/km pace and my average LSD speed increased to 8K per hour. My second week interval workout gave me an average of 5:20 minutes/km pace and my average LSD speed increased to 8.5K per hour. Lately, my third week interval workout gave me an average of 5:10 minutes/km pace and my average LSD speed increased to 9.0K per hour. In my rough estimate, it’s within 10:45 minutes/mile range and if I can sustain such pace, I can run a full marathon in 4:42 to 4:45 hours. Not bad for a Senior Citizen!
Even if I immediately wear my running shoes after coming out of the swimming pool and do my jogging to the Parade Ground, I still do my warm-up easy run for 1K; do some basic stretching to my calf muscles, quads, hamstrings, glutes and ITBs; and do some brief speed drills like “knee-high” or “100-ups”, butt kicks, and bouncing lunges! After my interval workout, I have to do also another 1K “cool-down” jog or brisk walk before I end up with my post-stretching exercises, the same ritual before the workout, except for the speed drills.
Since is it very hot at noon time, I see to it that I have to drink water every time I finish one repetition of the workout. It is only after the workout that I ingest food and drink my sports drinks. (Note: There are water fountains along the jogging lane)
If you want to get faster and more consistent in your training and races, don’t forget to include an interval workout in your training program, at least, once a week. There are other ways and means to make you faster but I’ll have to reserve that in my future posts.
Remember, interval workout is the reason why the runner in front of you is faster and stronger! You can do it, too! And ultimately, beat the runner who had been passing you or the guy in front of you!
(Note: Don’t be misled why I’ve been swimming a lot. Swimming is a part of my cure/treatment to my injury and I use it as an “extender”/cross-training workout for my ultra running training)