What Intensity Should I Run At?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Although heart rate is a fair overall indicator of your level of exercise intensity, it's not perfect. There aren't many fixed rules for training and the following guidelines are based on scientific studies and the experience of coaches and athletes. 

So, take a look and see how you can make your training more targeted and efficient – without having to read a load of statistics!

Sprint and distance

Run high-intensity intervals hard, but not so hard that you have to stop and walk or rest completely between intervals.  And for short distance sprinters, high intensity sprint intervals with walking rest between are good. 

Distance runners won't get as much benefit from this and endurance athletes using high-intensity interval training to improve their speed should do interval training sessions like a distance runner, not like a sprinter. 

This means running consistently at your maximum effort and then jogging at low-moderate intensity in your rest intervals. So, you'll be running at faster/higher intensity for shorter distance intervals between 200m - 400m and not so fast for longer intervals between 800m -1000m.

You can begin with just two to four intervals in your first couple of interval workouts.

Raising your lactate threshold

When your body is used to running at a higher intensity, you can then start running as many intervals as you can manage before you see 10 - 20% decrease in your goal pace/speed - with suitable rest intervals.

The longer the intervals are - about 1.5 kilometres or more - the less need to jog between them because on fairly long intervals you probably won't be running at full sprint pace. Longer distance intervals can be used as a way of raising your lactate threshold during high-intensity running, so you can run for longer at higher intensities.

Jog or walk 

If you do this, you can treat your longer interval runs, of about 1.5 kilometres and longer repeats, like short, high-intensity tempo intervals.  And whether you jog or walk between can be your choice depending on how intensely you've run each interval.

If you're running them so fast that you can only manage to walk between, but you're reaching your target pace consistently for the whole running interval, that's great!

Wait ‘til you can comfortably jog in between, before you start to think about increasing your target pace and you'll get good long-term progress.

Share the article