Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Track Time Tuesday

The workout was tough. My Garmin displayed the dreaded “Batteries are Low” message. Last week a little rain was enough of an excuse to go home. But yesterday I showed up at the track in time to get warmed up for an interval workout. And I stayed.

The workout was 3 X 800 with 3 min rest followed by 2 X 400 with 2 min rest:

  • Interval 1 (800): 3:48
  • Interval 2 (800): 3:53
  • Interval 3 (800): 3:51
  • Interval 4 (400): 1:52
  • Interval 5 (400): 1:43

There was some serious sucking of wind last night. But I showed. I stuck it out. I finished.

Oh. I recently had some questions about intervals. I just kind of assume that because I know, everyone does. I know. I shouldn’t make those assumptions. Here are some answers:

Q: What does it mean to do 3 X 1600? A: The way that intervals are communicated are: # of repeats X distance. So, “3X1600” means 3 repeats of 1600 yards/meters. Run 1600 m. Rest. Run 1600 m. Rest. Run 1600 m. Done. Which brings up something else I’d like to point out – you will sometimes see intervals on a training plan like this: “ 1 mi WU, 8X800 @ 5K pace 2min AR, 1 mi WD”. This is saying 1 mile warm up followed by eight repeats of 800 meters run at your 5K pace with a 2 minute active rest (jog) in between each 800, followed by a 1 mile warm down. Clear as mud?

Q: I know that going around a track four times equals 1600 but being outside how do you tell? Do you have a watch or something that tells you you've gone 1600m? A: The short answer is yes – I have a Garmin. If I didn’t I would pre-measure a course ( driving in a car, etc.) and then run the course. The long answer though is that intervals really should be run on a track or some other flat surface. Intervals have a very specific goal in a training cycle (VO2 Max stimulation), so running them on a hilly course makes pacing difficult. So the bottom line is try to run them on a track or a measured flat course (around a park for example).

Q: Can you do intervals on a treadmill? To some extent, it seems like it would be easier, or convenient, no? What incline on a treadmill is sort of equivalent to running outside on streets? A: A treadmill can be used for interval training. As far as incline? I live in Southern California. Our weather is beautiful all the time. We don’t need no stinking treadmills. Seriously though, there is one thing that you should keep in mind if you use a treadmill. Streets don’t move. Treads do. So the action that you take on a treadmill is to lift your foot and drop it on the tread. On the track, you pick up your back foot and drive with your front foot. Just sayin’.

One final point about intervals. Don’t run them too fast!  We all want to go as fast as we can, but remember – there’s a purpose to interval training. The purpose is to stimulate VO2Max by raising our heart rate to a specific level for a specific time. Run your intervals too fast and not only do you raise your heart rate above the target you’re after, but if you can’t sufficiently rest between intervals, then the likelihood of hitting your desired target for later intervals becomes more and more suspect. So remember – 5K pace!


  1. Good job "sucking" those intervals!
    Thanks for answering those questions. ;)

  2. I just wanted to add that if you don't have a track or a device to measure distance, you could always map it online or just use landmarks as your gauges.

  3. Very cool Post GLenn, as I have started to take on the whole interval training thing. I don't think I can do that Sleeping, so I will save the sleeping for my LSDs. Very good answer on the whole treadmill thing.

  4. You rock Glenn! Thanks for the great info. I'm printing it out for my wife, who asks "why can't they just use 'miles'?"

  5. Good Job for getting out there and staying!
    We did say rain rain go away member? So now we must go out and Play!

  6. Glad you got those intervals done speedy!! Those are some good questions and answers! Thanks for posting those!

  7. Hi Glenn,
    Nice workout at the track! Intervals are good for you:) Funny about the sucking wind...I do it more than I would like to admit!! Have a good one:)

  8. Okay, I'm totally motivated to go to the tracks. I do have a hard time not going ALL OUT doing intervals. Then I'm crawling around the track for my last few. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Way to knock out the last 400! Sub 7 minute mile is pretty good pace for a self proclaimed "fat guy". I'm not so sure you qualify anymore :).

  10. Good job on those intervals!

    I do my 100m strides on an access road between 3 fire hydrants spaced around 100 meters apart. My son and I measured it one day. I also have a 600m loop street and and 800m loop street.

    The funny thing is I actually did a bunch of runs on my daughter's HS track (nice rubbery/soft) when the marching band was practicing on the football field but I just did regular runs. Maybe I will actually do some speedwork on the track the next time.

  11. Great job on the intervals! Those are some great times. Thanks for the interval pointers.

  12. Funny, I ran a LONG time before I figured out what the crap all of the 800x8, 1600xjiofjiofewf meant.

    Good call explaining it to everyone.

  13. What an informative post. Way to kick some butt on your intervals. I always feel like I'm speaking in code when I'm writing out my interval workouts on my blog. :p