Intervals for speed & food as fuel…

Having taken part in two long races this week already I would not ordinarily attempt a rigorous speed/interval session so soon. However, after a straightforward four and a half mile ‘recovery’ run last night I felt able to do the interval session today. Besides, with a 10k race coming up in Downpatrick on Wednesday night I really need to get some speed back into the legs after all the long races.

The interval session was part of a 12 week programme to reach my target 10k pace. It is the third week of the programme and it asked for a demanding 10 x 0.5mile session with each interval at my target 10k pace. I had a short rest period of 2 mins each time. The garmin copy is attached below:

Interval sessions are crucial to a runner’s training for many reasons:

  1. It helps prevent you getting ‘one paced’.
  2. It increases the intensity of your workout and can aid weight loss or amount of calories burned.
  3. It brings about pace improvement in bitesize chunks

…I could go on. I should say that you should be rested before an interval session (though I rarely heed my own advice here) and you should rest after. Now,”rest” for me may entail a short recovery run, but certainly not back to back sessions – where a “session” is actually a run where I want to stay within a desired time zone or cover a certain distance.

This brings me to nutrition. The are lots of complicated theories about nutrition and what to eat and how to lose weight. Many runners are frustrated that they are not losing weight. It is really down to changing how you perceive food. View it as fuel.

Now, those who know me know that I like a biccie with my coffee as much as the next person (probably more so!) but there are certain times to eat certain foods. For example, I resisted a drink or a chinese takeaway last night as I knew they would be no good as fuel for today’s interval session. I took ‘light’ carbs today. Experts talk about complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates – I simply try to go by how the belly feels. I try not to stuff myself before a speed session but make sure the foods that I do take are energy rich. Therefore, yes, I did take a couple of biscuits with my coffee this morning! Great fuel 🙂

After the gruelling interval session I try to get protein in as quickly as possible to mend the muscles and aid recovery. I will try to avoid the biccies and sweet stuff but may venture into the more conventionally fatty foods if I must (again moderation is the key and avoid binging!) I do use a whey protein shake and I find this great for recovery purposes.

So I suppose, in short, view each meal as a recovery of a previous run or a preparation for an upcoming run and you shouldn’t go too far wrong!

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