Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Intervals & Endurance...

Between oncoming (or current) illnesses, chronic fatigue, and well... life most all of my running group members were no shows for this morning's run 😞. So I was left to my own devices today which meant: mile repeats. Let me first say that I honestly think in order to get the most out of your mile repeats you should do at least three. That being said, with the combination of humidity and running's increased metabolic effect on my GI system, I stopped at 2.

For the first mile I ran one lap around my complex (approximately 0.5 miles), took a 15 second walk break and then ran the remaining distance for a mile. Pace: 11:14 mins...

Even after the first mile I was drenched in sweat...

For the second mile I decided to do more structured intervals. I ran for two minutes and walked for 20-30 seconds (then repeated that) for the entire mile. Pace: 10:55 mins...

Second post-run selfie...

So essentially: Intervals doesn't mean you will run slower. Running slower means you will run slower. 

There are times when intervals may need to be the focus of your training because they help reduce muscle fatigue in your legs and can help reduce your injury risk etc. You can also use intervals to focus on your form or your cadence. You can use them on those mornings (or evenings) when you really don't want to run but know you have to do it (you can do almost anything for two minutes at a time right?). And better yet, you can use intervals when you're running with that running friend who's a lot faster than you, and does annoying things like run backwards (if you don't have one of those then there is a good chance you are that annoying friend); you can just tell them "Oh you go ahead, it's fine, I'm doing intervals today" 😉.

When I started running I followed the Jeff Galloway plan and I'm a huge believer in his general philosophy regarding intervals. But I don't think they are the only way to train. And, for the record, I don't think you need to run past (or to) your race distance to train for your first event...
(Why would anyone want to do that? Why? You don't get a medal for training runs! You will be capable of finishing the race if you get to mile 11/12 in your half marathon, or mile 23 in your marathon; trust me. Your body already hates you so it's just a mental game at that point (so don't doubt yourself). Train to run on tired legs but you don't need to run to/past your race distance in training. It's unnecessary)

Anyway, I digress. As I was saying, intervals are not the only way to train and they should not be the only type of runs that you do. A part of good marathon (and half marathon) training is building your endurance. And you do that by running non-stop. And you'll need to run non-stop for more than a mile at a time. 

Endurance training takes work and it requires that you establish a solid base and build on it. It's part of the reason why I believe that  "training never stops" and why I always have a race on the calendar that I'm focusing on. I also have races scheduled because I'm currently unapologetically addicted to race medals cause they make me happy...
(Hi, my name is LeAnne and I'm a race bling addict. It's been 10 days since my last medal...)

As you focus on building endurance you should always start from the edge of your comfort zone and expand that boundary slowly. Every few weeks that boundary should be pushed/stretched a little more. That way you'll have a good 2-3 weeks at your new endurance comfort zone before you increase it. So for example, if you currently only do intervals and your goal is to run a 5K non-stop, then start with increasing your running interval; once you get to being able to run one mile non-stop then try 1.5 miles, then 2, then 2.5 miles non-stop. If you can run 2.5 miles non-stop you can definitely run 3.1 miles non-stop. And, of course, don't let your pace drop as you increase the running intervals. Maintain the same intensity you had initially (and if your initial "intensity" wasn't intense then get to that point first). Endurance training should make you stronger so you can't slow down for the sole purpose of getting through the distance. And you won't need to if you learn how to build your endurance slowly.

Now here's the challenge... When training for a race you need a combination of different types of runs in order to have a well rounded plan (and of course you also need to cross train). Because of the need for different types of runs it is sometimes difficult to build speed and build endurance and change intervals all in that one training cycle. So my advice? Start with picking one goal. Once you pick your goal, identify the race in which you're hoping to accomplish that goal. And then adjust your training accordingly. It may mean that you don't get significantly faster but you finish the race feeling stronger and having run most (or all) of it non-stop. Or it may mean that you got a PR but you took strategic walk breaks for your intervals. Or it very well may mean that you got through the race and you were not totally destroyed, you were able to walk the next day, and your legs don't hate you #AllRaceGoalsMatter.  

For my Winter & Spring races I'm focusing on speed through increased running intervals (which are also helping me with endurance). I'm picking two because I've been running for almost 4 years now (it will be 4 years in June/July) and I want a half marathon PR. I'm determined to get one this year. I don't anticipate that I'll be able to achieve it at my next half marathon, but I want to get one before my Ragnar event in May (I have different pace goals for Ragnar). For my next half I would like a finish time of sub-02:30:00 (which will also be a course PR for me). In order to achieve that I need a pace of 11:26mins/mile...

To put that in perspective, my recent Miami half marathon time was about 20 seconds slower per mile. So it's an achievable goal but it definitely won't be easy. But then, nothing good ever is 😉

What do you do to build endurance?

Do you incorporate mile repeats in your training?

What aspect of running/racing are you addicted to?


  1. Jeff Galloway was at the race I did Sunday! He passed me near the beginning of the race lol.

    Running and racing is soooo mental for me!! I know it so for everyone, but I feel like I am super susceptible so I would be that person who runs extra just to be sure I'm totally prepared lol. Now, granted, i haven't done that yet. The most I've run in training is 10 miles because something always happens to stop me from the longer planned ones. But I still always plan on it lol.

    1. It would be interesting to see how it compares. Especially with your recent PR. Try it and see if you feel more prepared or not. I've seen Galloway speak but never been in a race with him. His baseline pace is fast from what I hear so he could walk for 5 minute intervals and probably still beat me ;) lol


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