Crush Your First 5K Race With This Beginner Interval Workout

So you’ve committed to running your first 5K—congratulations! Making the transition from running for fun to training for a race may seem daunting at first, but you’ll quickly realize that the preparation and anticipation are just as fun as the race itself.

Perhaps your goal is to run the whole race without walking, or maybe you have a certain time you’d like to hit. Even if you just want to cross the finish line in one piece, you can benefit from some interval training. “But interval training is just for the faster, more experienced runners,” you may be thinking. False! Incorporating interval training into your routine can help you improve your form by engaging more muscles, increase your speed by running at different paces and lower your perceived effort when returning to those easy runs.

Coach Nate takes us through a progressive interval workout to help you unleash your speed:

  1. 30 seconds fast, 60 seconds rest

  • Run fast for 30 seconds, followed by a 60-second recovery.
  • For the fast portion, don’t get hung up on a certain pace. Try to run as fast as you can while still remaining in proper form, feeling smooth and in control. You should be able to mutter a couple words during the fast portion, but it would be difficult to hold a conversation.
  • During your 60-second recovery, either jog slowly or walk. This is your time to relax and control your breathing before your next rep.
  • Aim to complete ten reps of 30 seconds on, 60 seconds off. This is a total of 5 minutes of interval work.
  • Make sure you’ve warmed up first. It’s also okay to start the first few intervals easier and build in speed throughout the workout.
  • Repeat once per week for 2 to 3 weeks before moving to the second workout.

2. 60 seconds fast, 60 seconds rest

  • Now that you’ve mastered 30-second intervals, it’s time to kick it up a notch.
  • Run fast for 60 seconds, followed by an equal, 60-second recovery.
  • Just like the previous workout, aim to run as fast as possible while holding a proper form and practicing your breathing. You’re also learning to carry your speed for a longer period of time.
  • Your 60-second recovery should be an easy jog or a walk.
  • Aim to complete ten reps of 60 seconds on, 60 seconds off. This is a total of ten minutes of interval work.
  • Repeat this workout once per week for another 2 to 3 weeks. Then, let’s move on to the next!

3. 90 seconds fast, 60 seconds rest

  • Now we’ve extended the work part of the interval to be longer than the rest part of the interval. 90 seconds may sound like a long time, but you’ve conquered the previous two workouts and you’re more than ready to take on this new challenge. These longer intervals will build confidence in your ability to run faster during your 5K race.
  • Run fast for 90 seconds. Since this is a longer interval than the previous two workouts, you’ll have to focus even more on maintaining proper form and paying attention to your breathing. Are your shoulders hunching? Arms cramping up? Relaxing your body from the neck down will help your muscles ease into the quicker pace.
  • Walk or slowly jog for 60 seconds to recover.
  • Aim for 10 reps of 90 seconds on, 60 seconds off for a total of 15 minutes of work.
  • Again, repeat this workout once per week for 2 to 3 weeks. Aim to complete this workout 7 to ten days ahead of your race.

Don’t believe that intervals are just for faster or more experienced runners. Intervals, if done properly, can make your running more enjoyable. Afterall, who doesn’t like when their runs start feeling a little easier, their body feels a little stronger, and their pace a little faster?

Join us during the week of June 5th for The Big Run, either virtually or at your local Fleet Feet.

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