High-Intensity Interval Training for Running – You Will Reap the Benefits!

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is possibly one of the best forms of building endurance and general conditioning, and even losing weight. Whether it is for road running, trail running or for functional fitness (like CrossFit), interval training is likely going to be your best (running) tip, ever.

(High-Intensity) Interval Training for Running

What exactly is high-intensity interval training?

It is a combination of high-intensity training and interval training, obviously. It is when you vary the speeds, distances, and especially intensities on shorter workouts. It burns calories and builds up oxygen capacity, and best of all it will leave your metabolism functioning at a higher level of efficiency for hours after the workout – longer than long slow training would.

High-intensity interval training works both your anaerobic (high intensity, muscle building) and aerobic (low intensity, use of oxygen) system. During high intensity short bursts of activity, your system will use energy stored in the muscles – so it works without oxygen feeding it. This builds up lactic acid and when you rest (during rest intervals), your heart and lungs work to get more oxygen to your muscles, using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy.

Sample/Examples of High-Intensity Interval Training

Doing high-intensity interval training three times a week is great, and allows you rest and recovery between training sessions. Before starting, we recommend that you warm-up and stretch for a few minutes. Do the same after your training session.

Sample/Example 1:

  • Set up two markers with 10 metres of distance between them. Point A and point B.
  • Run one length (from point A to B) in “minute 1”.
  • Now, for every consecutive minute thereafter, run from point A to point B, and/or from point B back to point A, in the minute equivalent unit (i.e. minute 2: 2 laps, minute 3: 3 laps, minute 4: 4 laps, etc.)
  • One “lap” is either from point A to point B, or from point B back to point A.
  • Keep going until you miss a round – i.e. when you can’t complete the round before the next minute starts.

Sample/Example 2:

  • Get a rubber band/powerband (REBEL Elite Fitness sells great quality powerbands) and find a partner.
  • Place the rubber band around your waist, with your partner holding the rubber band behind you and running with you, but pulling back on it – creating fair resistance.
  • Sprint a distance of 30 metres like this, at your max effort!
  • Swap and let your partner run the 30 metres back, in the same style.
  • Use the “return run” and swapping of the powerband as your rest period – try keeping it as unvarying as possible.
  • Do that for 10-12 rounds.

Benefits of Interval Training

The physiological changes you will gain are an increase in cardiovascular efficiency and an increased tolerance to lactic acid build up (that burn you feel in your muscles). You are also likely to avoid common endurance training injuries (just remember to warm up and stretch properly though!), like repetitive overuse. With high-intensity interval training you are similarly able to increase training intensity without reaching burn-out, associated with long slower training.

In short, by regularly including various high-intensity interval training workouts into your routine, you will see an improvement in performance, speed and endurance.


Do you include any high-intensity interval training in your routine? Tell us about what you have tried and what results worked for you.

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