In layman's terms, please!

Yesterday I lacked motivation as I don't seem to be making any progress (I've run for 3 mths, I'm still the same weight and no faster!)
Some of you very kindly gave me some advice. I intend to follow as much of it as I can. However, one particular piece of advice was to get a training schedule - intervals, fartlek, tempo runs etc..
Apologies for appearing so ignorant, but what are they?
I'm keen to have a go, but I really need some kind person to explain what these are, very simply, in layman's terms, so I can at least make a start- even tonight!!
Also, how often should I do them?
Yesterday, I was informed this will greatly improve my performance, I just hope it helps me shed my spare tyre!!


  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Jof, as you've only been running for 3 months it's a bit too soon to be doing interval training or tempo runs. These involve running at a much faster pace than you usually do for, normally, a predetermined time.

    Intervals would be running for say 2 minutes with a 2 minute rest (4 minutes in total) and doing that between 5 and 10 times.

    A tempo run would involve running the middle portion of your run at a much faster pace.

    The fartlek session is probably more useful for you at this stage as it is very straightforward. During your normal run simply pick up the pace for as long or as short as you want to. Could be 2 or 3 lamp posts of 2 or 3 minutes - you choose. Do it once or as many times as you can. It's not scientific but it works.
  • Jof - re you're motivation, it's very hard to judge in the early stages the improvement running can make (or the improvement to your running ) try and get a goal - maybe a five or ten km race ibn a few months. Work towards your goal and also try and vary routes as soemtimes a change is much better than a rest.

    When i started all i could think about was distance - every run was longer than the last, I don't suggest you do this, but between one and four runs a month where you try and increase the distance by half a mile or so is healthy.

    You'll soon find that as you inmprove your overall stamina, you should be able to run shorter distances at an increased pace.

  • Jof,

    Here are a few tips and definitions..

    An 'Interval session' is a running session where, after warming up, you run fast for a set distance or time; then jog or walk for a set distance or time; then repeat that as many times as necessary.

    For example, if I did a session of "Intervals: 8x800m, 400m recovery", this means I'd:

    1. warm up;
    2. run fast for 800m;
    3. jog or walk 400m;
    4. repeat steps 2+3 seven more times;
    5. Cool down by jogging home; have a shower!

    It can also be done with times, such as, "8x5mins fast, 4mins recovery".

    A "tempo run" is simply a run in which you start at a jogging pace, and smoothly accelerate so that for a little while in the middle of the run you are running at a quite fast speed; then decelerate again to a jog at the end. Obviously the speed at which you peak depends on the length and difficulty of the run.

    "Fartlek" is the easiest. All a fartlek run is is running steadily, picking a landmark anywhere between 100 metres and a kilometre away, running fast to it, jogging til you recover, then doing it again with another random landmark. Sort of like improvised intervals. It's good fun. :)

    As for how often, you should aim to do no more than one speed session a week at first. Later on, you can add another, if you're getting faster and fitter; but adding more than one moderate speed session at a time is really asking for trouble. Probably best to do fartlek or a tempo run first of all; intervals, when done properly, are rather more demanding and are best not used as your introduction to speedwork IMO.

    Good luck! :)
  • Greetings from Portugal

    Been running for 1 year, and to improve vel.
    done the a session of "Intervals: 8x800m, 400m recovery at 3:30 @ 800", that destroyed me. Im a 43:40 at 10 KM. Beware with your pace. Im now doing some 3/4 in 800 @ 3:45

    Regards to you all,

  • SticklessStickless ✭✭✭
    Drew speaks good sense, but I think there is a case even for less experienced runners varying the running diet so as not to get into a rut.

    Fartlek, definitely. All it means is don't get into a rut. I try to make outings quite different, even over the same distance. For example, my 3 mile route - one day I'll do fast 10 steps, slow 10 steps, fast 20, slow 20 on up to 60 fast, 60 slow, and then back down to 10 fast, 10 slow. The next time, I'll stick 3 fast-ish 4 minute stretches in, with one minute slow to recover.

    And to the other extreme, try extending distance and time on your feet by run4 walk1, which is only intervals by another name. Making the run bits quite slow as well. It's the way I got through the 6 mile barrier (and the 8 mile barrier, and the 10 mile barrier..).

    If one type of workout seems not to be improving for a few weeks, leave it, concentrate on some other for a bit, come back to it.

    It'll come.

    Rodrigo Hi! Bet it's hot running in Portugal by this time of year!
  • Hi ppl and Stickless

    Im from Almada near Lisboa, I run early in the morning (6:30 - 7:30) the weather is rainy and cold, strange but true! In the afternoon gets hot but is OK. In Algarve is hotter...

    BTW -> any advice for speedwork on track for a guy who have done 43:40 at 10 KM in May and wants this year to achieve 40:59?


  • Drew's advice is good, don't try too much too soon, just mix it up enough to make training enjoyable and challenging.

    Most importantly, don't get despondent; You haven't been running long but stick with it and you will see that spare tyre go, honest!

    Joining a running club may help too.
    Have fun!

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  • the other comments are right as you don't really need to understand al lthe mumbo jumbo.

    you CAN do intervals.  however most people think of them as fast intervals.

    There's no reason why you can't do a longer Zone 2 (heart rate zone 2 run) with intervals going a a bit faster. That would be of great benefit to you. You cold do it every day (well let's say every other day to start)

    faster intervals DO have the potential to improve your overall speed HOWEVER they also present a bigger chance of you getting injured. Then again my partner does them and probably shouldn't but finds them more enjoyable (and shorter) and any exercise is probably better than none, right?

    weight loss: the longer zone 2 run/zone 3 will make you lose weight

    shorter/faster intervals will tend to build slightly more muscle. Muscle burns more calories when at rest.


    so ideally you would do both 


  • Hey Mabel is still around ! How about an update Mabel - what did you find worked for you ?
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