these workouts can be as short as 30 minutes in length, but are often mentally the toughest. They work well either inside or out, but i've found them to be most effective when i've got reasonably controlled conditions so that my attention can be focused on the difficult intervals that they require. I usually allow the first 5 minutes as a warm-up, building quickly up to Zone 3 effort (according Friel) for a couple minutes and then backing down to Z2 for the last minute of warm-up so that i can mentally prepare for the upcoming set. I will usually include the maximum number of intervals that i can in the remaining time. for example, if a workout includes 1 minute work intervals (WI) followed by 1 min rest intervals, i might warm up for 5 minutes and go immediately into the first of 12 work intervals. this leaves one extra minute of warm down, for two total minutes after the last set. The shorter the duration of the WI, the greater the output you should shoot for during the interval. 1 minute intervals should have you performing at a well above lactate threshold for much of the interval, and you can expect heart rates of 80% to 90% of your maximum. Rest interval output during short intervals should be minimal - easy spinning on a bike or walking for example - the goal is to see how consistently you can meet a target during thework intervals. push reasonably hard on the first interval and you'll guarantee yourself an awesome workout trying to always match this benchmark.
for longer WI, say 4 x 4 min WI with 3 min RI, my goal pace for the WI will be a bit more modest - perhaps only slightly above or even at lactate threshold (Z4) - but my RI pace will be a bit higher in contrast. For me, a 7 min mile pace over 10 miles usually requires substantial effort but is possible. for the workout mentioned above i might attempt to run three quarters of a mile and then walk between 'sets' or perhaps 2/3 of a mile at a 6 min pace with a RI @8 min pace. The key ingredient of course is intensity - the work intervals need to be challenging enough so that when you're on your second one, even though you may have been working out only 10 or less minutes, you're realizing that this is going to be a challenge. I have all sorts of mental tricks that i've found effective in keeping my motivation high when i'm already spent, and i'll go over some of these in a later post.
Setting a benchmark with the first interval, as mentioned above, is crucial. It keeps you honest and able to assess your workout objectively as you proceed though it. As mentioned, having a track or planned course and watch (or some other device with which to calculate your pace), is important. If these are not available, cardio equipment at a gym can be an excellent substitute, as it offers a way to objectively set the parameters of both WI and RI. Mentally, this can be the toughest of the three workouts because, particularly with more numerous and shorter intervals, it requires you to muster up you will over and over again, even for just a half an hour session. On the days where you're worried about being able to push yourself on that first interval, cardio equipment can even 'get you into' the workout without as much mental effort on your part, particularly if you've regularly trained indoors and have some historical pacing strategies to pull from. If i know i've run 10x1 minute intervals at a 5:30 pace before but i'm feeling lazy, i can just key up the program and try hang on for the ride.
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