Consistency or variation?

Was thinking last night about which is more important with interval sessions, repeating the same session weekly to track progress (and shorten recovery) or varying the session to keep things fresh? E.g I tend to pick between 8 x 400, 6 x 800, 5 x 1000 or 3 x mile 


  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    I would have thought, as with anything else in running, variety. I tend to repeat sessions every 8 or so weeks.

    How do you gauge progress? I started out with those distances above but have now progressed them so i do 12 x 400, 8 x 800, 6 x 1000 and 4 x 1 mile amongst others. I try and work out so my efforts amount to over 6k and I am doing efforts for between 22-25 minutes.

  • Hi DT, I tend to keep track on progress by either improvement on the rep time or my recovery period shortening... With all of them I aim to be quicker than my 5K pace. What kind of pace are you running those at? 

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    I take the pace rang from mcmillan and aim for top end. I recently did 8 x 800. Mcmillan gives me something like 2.56- 3.06 and they all came out at 2.52-2.55. If i did 800's at 5kp I would be coming in about 3.05.

    There is only so far you can squeeze down the recovery and increase the pace by though, so the other way to progress is add the reps on. When iw as doing 600 x 800 etc I was told that, that was pretty entry level and i should try and progress it up a bit.

  • How much recovery do you allow on that? 

    Last night I tried 4 x 800m (2 min rec's) with the aim of being a bit quicker (2.40, 2.40, 2.46, 2.43). Next time I will try 7-8 x 800m and take it easier

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    what are your stats re 5k time? I assume it would be sub 18?

    I tend to take 2 minutes recovery on 800's, though thats the nxt thing to improve on and bring down.

    when i moved to 8 x 800 i did them in two blocks of 4 x 800 with a slow 800 recovery jog in between the two sets.

  • 5k is 18.04 at the moment (parkrun). Next time I'm gonna try a longer set and see how I get on

  • Not really a lot of point tracking progress on a weekly basis.   So go for variation. But have a couple of 'signature' sessions that you repeat and monitor every 3 or 4 weeks.

  • Go for both. You could go for different interval sessions on an 8 week rotation. 

  • Thanks guys. My favourite is 5 x 1k which always seems to precede a 5k PB! 

  • I agree there is only so far you can push it in terms of reps/pace so here's something I use when cutting my 5k time.

    using a gps watch..


    eg aiming for a sub 18min 5k aim to run 3x1 mile intervals in under 5:50.

    as soon as you drop off your target pace, stop. When you are fit to continue carry on at target pace and complete the workout. 

    Progress is tracked by total secs rest. Once you need 0 secs rest adjust target pace.

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