Week 5 Training Changing it Up With Intervals
Last Saturday, several of us showed up at the Sheldon High School track for our first interval training. This workout corresponded with day 4 of week 5. The previous week, we ran 6 miles together for week 3. Week 4 of the training schedule was a step back week, allowing us to rest more. Since the long run was 4 miles, each of us did that on our own.
So we jumped ahead just a little to week 5 to incorporate some of the speed work. Anybody following along should read the schedule and include enough rest time. It is always important to rest between longer runs, and it is usually a good idea to include a step back week after increasing distance for several weeks in a row.
The schedule recommends Fartlek training regularly, starting in week 5. The workout was 6 sprint intervals of 15 seconds each, running more slowly for recovery in between. The goal is to raise the heart rate above the moderate exercise level and create a higher demand for oxygen in the muscle cells. Doing this frequently, over several weeks will increase VO2 max, the amount of oxygen the body can convert to energy.
There are other benefits to pushing the pace. One is that running faster sometimes shakes out bad habits in a person's stride and forces them to use core muscles they might not have been using effectively while running slowly.