Regiments: The Painful Truth is Intervals Are Good

Bodywork, April 1997


Regiments: The Painful Truth is Intervals Are Good
By Ken McAlpine


"The name of the game is who can hold off the lactic-acid onslaught," says Matt Giusto, 30, who last year coached himself to the season's fastest American road 10k (27:59) and a 5,000-meters spot on the U.S. Olympic team. "And, of course, who can withstand the most pain."

Not that we're recommending pain, but interval training unfortunately involves a bit of hurt, so here's a mitigation primer suitable for 5k and 10k distances, courtesy of Giusto. One important caution: Take the easy days and the post-interval cooldowns just as seriously as the intervals themselves. "This is where you push the blood through the muscles and flush the lactic acid out of your system," Giusto says. "If you don't, you'll have incredible muscle soreness." Giusto offers three different workouts for athletes of different abilities. Choose your own method of torture.

Beginner
Warm up with a 15-minute jog.
Sprint 100 meters at about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate--which should be just above your anaerobic threshold.
Walk back to your starting point.
Sprint another 100 meters; walk back to recover.
Repeat this cycle for no more than ten minutes.
Cool down with a 15-minute jog. Do the whole routine once a week.

Intermediate
Warm up with a one-mile jog.
Run hard for three minutes, staying above your AT.
Jog well below your AT for two minutes to recover.
Run hard for two minutes; jog for one minute.
Run hard for one minute; jog for three minutes.
Cool down with a one-mile jog.
Repeat this pyramid three times. Do the workout twice a week, with two easy days in between.

Advanced
Session 1: Track Intervals
Warm up with a one-mile run.
Run 8 x 1,000-meter or 4 x 2,000-meter or 10 x 800-meter intervals at or just above your anaerobic threshold heart rate.
Rest two to three minutes between intervals.
Cool down with a one-mile run.
Take a two-day break between interval sessions.
Session 2: Hill Repeats
Warm up with a one-mile run.
Run 10 x 100-meter intervals up a light to moderate grade at or just above your AT.
Walk back down between intervals.
Cool down with a one-mile run.

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