Are you ready to mix up your running routine? Now that you’re an “official” runner, and if you’re putting one foot in front of the other you are, it’s time to take your practice to the next level and add some different workouts. Intervals are an easy way to start. This article will provide an excellent introduction to interval training for beginners, for more advanced individuals, check out WatchFit’s Expert’s Guide to HIIT Interval Training.

What exactly is interval training? It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Interval training is simply incorporating bursts of intensity, with short recovery segments into your regular routine. For example, if you do a walk/run combination you could warm up, and then walk for 1 minute, run at an easy pace for 3 minutes and sprint for 30 seconds. Repeating as often as you like.

Why do interval training?

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Whether you’re a beginner or have had years of experience, interval training has benefits:

Improves endurance As your cardiovascular fitness improves, you’ll be able to exercise longer or with more intensity

Burns more calories – the more intensity you bring, the more calories you’ll burn. Even if it’s a few minutes at a time, and the best part of intense interval training is it’s ability to keep burning fat even after you’re done.

Keeps boredom at bay – there are many ways to add intervals to your routine to spice up any exercise program.

No special equipment needed – the best reason of all! Nothing special to buy or carry – you don’t even really need a watch!

Here are five simple workouts to get you started, from easiest to hardest:

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1) Beginning to run.

If you’re just beginning to run you can use interval training to build your running legs. This workout is less about speed, and more about form. Warm up by walking for ten minutes taking your pace from moderate to brisk.

Break into an easy run for one minute, followed by two minutes of recovery walking at a brisk pace. The key here, is to keep the recovery walk at a brisk pace and not move into a stroll.

Keep moving!! Repeat this three minute segment three – five times, and then cool down for five minutes.

2) Walk to Run.

Warm up by walking for ten minutes taking your pace from moderate to a brisk pace. Run for 30 seconds, followed by 90 seconds of speed walking.

Repeat the pattern nine – ten times, and cool down for five minutes. Focus on keeping a long spine, and landing on your full foot (not the toes, and not the heal).

3) More Run Than Walk.

Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy pace. Run for one minute followed by one minute of slow jog or brisk walk. Repeat this pattern five times and then cool down for ten minutes.

Think about breathing while you run on this interval. If you feel short of breath, fully exhale. Push everything out, and then inhale naturally.

4) Pick Ups. 

Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy pace. Set your sights on an object off in the near distance (a tree, rock, telephone pole, building, etc.), and run to it at a faster than normal pace.

Once you reach the object, or start feeling fatigued, slow down or even walk until your breathing has returned to normal, and then repeat the process.

Use objects closer to practice sprinting, and further away to simply pick up the pace a little. Do this for as long as it feels good, and finish the run with a five-ten minute cool down. This is one of my favorites as it forces you to pay attention and notice what’s in your environment!

5) Sprints!

Warm up for ten minutes at an easy pace. Run at an all out effort – as fast as you can for 30 seconds, followed by three minutes of recovery (slow jog or walk). Repeat this pattern five or six more times. Finish with a ten minute cool down.

Use different intervals to keep your run interesting and you motivated to get out there and get moving. Once you are comfortable with these routines, progress to this high-intensity interval workout.  No matter which one you choose, have fun and enjoy every run!

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