They hurt, they’re horrible but interval sessions – you know, the ones that leave your lungs by your ears and your legs wobbling like jelly – really will make you faster. That doesn’t make doing speed work or hill sessions any easier. A long easy-paced run is much more appealing, especially if you’re training on your own but like any good medicine, it must be taken. So how do you make these harder runs more palatable? Here are a few ways to make them a little more fun and easier to execute without having to do any running maths or keep your eye on your watch.
Run to music
Speed intervals are often about shaking up your legs and getting you to run at more than a plod pace. If you like to plug in during your runs, use your favourite tracks to get you going quicker by choosing songs that have a faster beat than your normal running pace. Try to keep your legs moving to the beat and see if you can last the whole track, letting yourself have a slower track to recover before you select another speedy track. Alternatively, use your favourite song as a time keeper, sprinting uphill during the chorus and recovering during the verses.
Let a stranger pace you
Whilst we don’t condone stalking, if you happen to be running the same route as a slightly faster runner, there’d be no harm in trying to keep up with them (so long as you offer them a friendly “hello” if you catch them up). Interval sessions are all about getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, running at someone else’s pace will be sure to do just that. Try to overtake them and stay ahead for a minute or two, then drop back to recover and let them regain the lead, before you repeat the process for as long as your human training tool will allow.
Race the bus
One for the city run commuters. Prove that two legs are better than wheels and try to beat the bus to the next stop. If you make it, line up again and set off for round two when the bus has loaded its new passengers. The longer you have between getting to the stop and the bus arriving, the more rest you’ve earned. Get enough running in and you can reward yourself with bus ride the rest of the way home.
Don’t have access to a running track? Create your own. Choose a start line and use your watch to mark out your desired distance, make a note of a landmark (lampposts are pretty useful in this situation) and return to your start. Then GO! Run hard to your finish landmark, then recover as you run gently back. Doing this a few times will no doubt get you running faster, just make sure you run around rather than into any lampposts.