2 Beginners Interval Workouts

Woman Running in City

For new runners, running intervals is a great way to shake things up and try something completely different than a routine run around the block.

These 2 different types of interval workouts–on a track–are great tools to building strength, speed, and endurance, perfect for a beginner runner looking to train for their first race. If a track is unavailable, you can map out distances (preferably a loop on flat surfaces) on Google Maps or another runner’s app.

If you’re new to these types of workouts, don’t worry too much about the times. After your first workout, you can get valuable data as the baseline for all your other workouts, and see how much you improve over the months. I recommend doing one of these workouts at least once a week or every two weeks to start.

The Ladder

The ladder is a long interval workout that helps build endurance and speed by having a runner focus on pacing. This is great for those days when you want to mix up your speeds.

A note: your “effort” can be determined by how you feel. More seasoned runners might define effort based on their heartbeat rates, but for now you can just visualize it by how well you know your body: 100% is all-out, pushing as hard as you can; 90-95% is working hard but reserving your energy just a bit; 70-85% would be running moderately fast so that you are breathing comfortably hard, at a pace that is manageable for a longer distance.

1st interval: 100 meters at 90% effort

2nd interval: 200 meters at 90% effort

3rd interval: 400 meters at 70-85% effort

4th interval: 200 meters at 95% effort

5th interval: 100 meters at 100% effort

As you build strength and endurance over the course of your training, try repeating this entire set twice or three times. Record your times and try to maintain consistency.

All-Out Intervals

These intervals are really difficult, but the amount of effort put in these workouts leads to great results.

For beginners, try:

4 x 400 meters, with a 2:30 minute break in-between each interval. Run each 400 meter loop at 100% maximum effort, and then jog or trot for 2 minutes and 30 seconds in between each interval. Keeping your body moving is important for it to stay ready for the next interval. Time each interval, and aim to maintain each interval finishing time within a minute of your first loop. For example, if you ran the first 400-meter loop at 3 minutes, try to keep running the next 3 intervals at within 3 to 4-minute finishing times.

Your time log might look like this:

1st interval: 3 minutes, 10 seconds

2nd interval: 3 minutes, 30 seconds

3rd interval: 3 minutes, 35 seconds

4th interval: 3 minutes, 29 seconds

Gradually, you will want to maintain times to be as close as possible, which means working harder and harder each interval to meet that same first time.

These two basic interval workouts can do wonders to your performance, preparing you for your first or next race!

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