Interval recovery strategies for runners

Interval recovery strategies for runners

There are a number of ways a runner can train for a race. Especially for longer distance runners, it can be a case of focusing on covering increasing mileage each week. If you’re looking to boost your pace, you may be trialling interval training. A well-rounded training routine should probably have a bit of both. Here’s how to use interval recovery strategies to get the most from your sessions. 


When you train using an interval technique, it involves doing short bursts of faster running interspersed with recovery periods. The faster periods may be closer to sprinting, or could be a few seconds faster than race pace. At the very least, the speed should feel a bit uncomfortable, and should require a period of recovery before attempting another round. 


You have three choices in between intervals: stand still, walk, or jog. Standing still is almost never the right thing to do, as it decreases blood flow to the leg muscles, which delays the clearing of waste materials. Choosing to walk or jog is influenced by the overall aim of the training session. 


When you should walk as an interval recovery strategy 


Phosphocreatine gives your muscles the power to put on short bursts of intense effort, like sprints. Walking between sets gives your legs the chance to refuel this vital resource. Walking is best when you’re working on increasing your top speed, as you’ll have more phosphocreatine to draw on. Think about walking when your sprints are 400m or less. 


When you should jog as an interval recovery strategy 


Jogging is a better strategy when the intervals are longer. If you’re working on pace over distance (1000m lengths at your 5K pace, for example), then jogging will help clear that build up in your muscles. Your recovery intervals should be between 2-4 minutes for these longer bouts of speed. Lactate is correlated with fatigue in muscles, and it’s been shown to clear if recovery intervals are spent jogging for at least 90 seconds. This refreshes the muscles and brings much needed oxygen. 


Ultimately the choice of walking or jogging between intervals is up to you. If you’re focussing on short distance, explosive speed, then walk between segments. If you’re looking to see a pace increase over longer distances, then jog to recover. 


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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site.

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