Interval Running for Beginners
Lace up those athletic shoes people and run for your life. Danish researchers have found those who jogged a mere hour to two and half hours a week added almost 6 years to their lives versus non-joggers. Here’s how to get your plus six without overdoing it.
Everything in Moderation
If you don’t exercise hard regularly, trying to jog for an hour at one time is excessive. The study found the jogging time for many was spread across two to three sessions over the course of a week. That means a minimum of 20 minutes three times a week to no more than 50 minutes per session twice a week. There’s no need for speed either, with participants from the Copenhagen City Heart Study reporting a slow to average pace. While the USDA recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week in addition to at least two days of strength training, this study shows even shorter bouts of physical activity can carry health benefits.
The Run-Walk or Sprint-Jog Strategy
If you’re new to running, the old run-walk strategy is just as beneficial for most of us than a sustained run. Not only can interval running help improve your cardiovascular fitness, it can also burn more calories than a continuous run. Try running at a high intensity for 30 seconds then resting for 60-90 seconds, then go for it again. Not only will you burn more calories, but you’ll be able to run faster longer.
Here are three strategies to create your own interval run workouts:
Belt it Out
If you’re a beginner, your starts and stops may be predicated solely on keeping your breath under control without stopping. Because the talk test is a great way to help, you can sing yourself into a running routine. You have a repertoire of untapped memories that are great for timing intervals and keeping you upbeat. Nursery rhymes and TV themes are usually thirty seconds to one minute long, easy to repeat, and will help keep you smiling when you want to stop. I prefer Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Barney’s I Love You, or Old MacDonald Had a Farm. The Cheers Theme, Good Times, or I Love Lucy also work. You can also use counting songs like 99 Bottles of Beer. You don’t have to sing them out loud, just having them in your head works. You can share the joke if you’d like.
I’m a sucker for a good running song and most pop songs are a great template for an interval run. Most popular songs are about 3 to 4 minutes in length with two to three choruses. About 6 songs will get you through a 20 minute run. Warm-up to a full song with a brisk walk that breaks a good sweat. When the second song’s chorus comes in, take off running at a faster pace, when the verse comes in, slow down. Pick up the pace again for the chorus and try and do the same for the second verse. The ramp or bridge can be a rest or to challenge yourself, try and sprint until the next song comes on. End with a slower song for cool down. My favorite song for a comfortable jog is Same Cooke’s Chain Gang. By the end I’m always huffing and puffing with him. Any rhythmic song that’s upbeat will do of course.
Hit the Track
This is the traditional interval running workout. Run a certain portion of the track, be it a straightaway and a curve, both, or a full lap, then rest for the same amount. As your fitness improves, cut down on rest and pick up the pace. Try and get a mile done running and a mile of brisk walking for a full workout.
What are some fun ways to stay motivated to finish a running workout?