With fall marathon season in full swing many runners, both seasoned marathons and newbies, are taking to the track for some faster paced running. Ever wonder if it's worth it? Here are five reasons why interval workouts are for every marathoner:
1. Build Strength
Speed work gets fast-twitch muscle fibers firing, and recruits more muscles than slow runs do. As you lengthen your stride to sprint, you engage your glutes, hip flexors, and extensors. This improves range of motion and helps alleviate tightness.
2. Faster Feet
When you run a fast pace, your feet turn over at a more rapid rate. So with enough practice, this quicker cadence becomes more natural, which means you'll need less effort to move faster on any run.
3. Improve Stamina
Speed sessions help maximize your aerobic capacity. When you hit a fast pace, you force the heart to pump oxygen through the body at a quicker rate. Over time, that makes your heart stronger, so it can deliver more oxygen to the muscles, and helps your muscles use oxygen more efficiently.
4. Run Stronger and Longer
By sustaining a comfortably hard effort, you condition your body to hold a faster pace for longer before lactic acid—the waste produced when the body burns glucose—starts accumulating. That helps stave off the burning sensation that's so often linked with running hard.
5. Make the Joy of Running Last
Even if you don't care about getting fast, you'll enjoy the post track euphoria and the fitness gains that go along with speed work. When you're fitter, you can cover the same miles with less effort and bust through plateaus.