Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Need for Speed...Intervals

When you think of a treadmill, what comes to mind?


But I think most people think of boredom...and that OK Go video. To alleviate some of the mundane that is the treadmill, I have been incorporating some speed intervals in my recent gym sessions. Because honestly, there is only so much T.I. and Tiny one can handle.

Today, I did 20 minutes of 1 minute at 8mph and 30 seconds at 5mph, a workout I found in a fitness magazine and figured was "easy enough" to try. Easy was in fact incorrect.
These intervals definitely help time fly by and I notice that my form is better when running faster. It is almost as if I don’t even have time to heel strike. Plus, going that fast just makes me feel awesome and like a “real” runner. However, they were anything but easy. I was more fatigued after 20 minutes than I am after 5 or 6 miles. 
Whether you are familiar with intervals or not, one thing to always focus on is your form. When you recover, it is common for people to slack and not maintain proper form because they are fatigued. Be sure to keep an eye on yourself and remember that, if you are struggling you can walk slowly or even stand. You need to be optimally recovered for your next repeat, so take advantage of the time. If you are newer to running, you can adjust your speed pace and recover at a walk rather than a slow run/jog. Whatever you adjust to, be sure you are still challenging yourself.
Do you currently do any speed interval training? If so, share your workouts. If not, or even if you do and you don’t feel like sharing (why so secretive?), let me know what "treadmill" makes you think of.
To inspire you:


  1. I'm new to interval training, so I've just been doing 30s on, 30s off over the course of 3 miles. I sleep well on those nights :)
    Size medium!

  2. I like to train intervals on the treadmill because it keeps the boredom out of the training and it makes me focus more on my foot strike and stride. I have always enjoyed 1 min at 6, 1 min at 6.5, 1 min at 7, and 1 min at 7.5 and rotate this for 20 to 30 minutes. This has also helped me keep a higher pace on road runs

    XL shirt

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  4. Treadmill just makes me think of winter time when the snow makes it near to impossible to run outside.

    I like hill training and that has intervals already built in.

    XL Shirt

  5. I have been using a treadmill for my Pikes Peak Marathon training (I live outside of Chicago.) My Monday workout is a mile warmup (8-9:00 pace), one mile hard running at a 13 incline and then running and walking with inclines in-between 13 and 15 until I have an hour of total "work". Been great for power and hill endurance!

    Cheers, Geoff.
    (Size Medium)

  6. Treadmills remind me of an earlier time in my life wherein I would always jack the machine up to 12 and sprint at the end of a 5K run. In college, this would account for a ton of stares, but what the heck, I like to sprint at the end of a run! (Thanks, Dad)

    Treadmills remind me of people that claim to workout because they have a dusty one folded in a hidden corner of their house.

    Treadmills remind me of mundane, pre-CrossFit fitness. To me, treadmills are boring; I prefer running outside.

    XL t-shirt.

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  8. I had a similar experience with a workout I'd found. Looked at it and thought 'This will work for a rainy day indoor run' and was wayyyyy wrong.

    It went as follows:
    Time Speed Incline
    0:00-5:00 5.0 1.0
    5:00-8:00 6:5 1.0
    8:00-13:00 6.0 3.0
    13:00-15:00 6.5 1.0
    15:00-18:00 6.0 4.0
    18:00-20:00 6.5 1.0
    20:00-23:00 6.0 5.0
    23:00-25:00 6.5 1.0
    25:00-28:00 6.0 3.0
    28:00-30:00 6.5 1.0
    30:00-33:00 6.0 5.0
    33:00-38:00 5.0 1.0

    I was toast afterwards and had some second-day soreness I was definitely not expecting.

    Another favorite is visiting the 4 level parking garage by my house. First time up, jog the flats and run the inclines. Rest 5 minutes. Run the flats and jog the inclines. Usually after 4 times up I'm toast.

    Size medium


  9. Treadmills make me think of dreaded routine. By nature (or lack thereof), these machines are designed to recycle the same strip of canvas which I just can't stand. It is programmed to stay at a certain speed which I dislike. People have been mobile since the beginning of our time and have achieved great running/fitness without these machines. However, treadmills do have a place for someone who is unable to run freely, whether its due to an unsafe neighborhood or other reason.

    Try this one (interval sprints):
    400m Sprint
    Rest 3 min
    200m Sprint
    Rest 2 min
    2x100m Sprint
    Rest 1 min between rounds

    Size L

  10. I use the local athletics track for speed intervals. My favourite set is 3x400m, 4x800, 3x1200 with 200m recovery between each set. Pretty much 10km of running passes by very fast.

    Adam L (size S)

  11. Treadmill training makes me feel I go no where fast.... Unless I have a weighted vest on and my f lites on

  12. I own a treadmill, but rarely use it ( mostly on rainy days ). I prefer to run outdoors, it's better prep for challenge races and i've gotten use to it at CrossFit.

    I know it's easier on the knees, but i don't like to take it easy..

    When i do run on the treadmill, I do a fat burning program with 10% incline, 6spd for 30 min burning around 350-370 cal.

    Tshirt: Medium

  13. Treadmills make me think of "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest". I think I saw one in the corner of the ward. They bring back a thought of an infirmary or a hospital. Don't like them there so not like them anywhere!

    Size Medium, please.

    Interval workout:

    10 Brurpees 5 minutes of easy jogging to warm up.

    30 seconds sprinting 10 seconds resting repeat 5 minutes
    Rest two minutes
    5 hill sprints with rest as you are coming down the hill
    30 minute ride / jog / swim to finish up

  14. Love this one, inspired by CFE:

    Incline at 12
    At 30 sec slower than 5K pace, 20 sec on/10 sec off x 8 rds.

    Closest thing to a religious experience I've had. And it's exactly what a treadmill was made for.

    Neil (size M)

  15. 800m warmup, 800m just below race pace, 1600 at race pace, 800m sprint

    4x10 Deadlifts followed by 4x10 front squats (include a warm up weight!!)

    Ladder agility drills until fatigue

    Sprint 1600m

    GO HOME.

    Repeat in 3 days.

  16. I stick to trail running since transitioning to my Bare Grips (LOVE THEM), so intervals aren't something I do anymore, unless I happen to have my iPod on me and an invigorating song comes on.

    Despite how I detest the treadmill, it does "keep it honest" because the times and the speeds are consistent.

    Size small :-)

    Oh, and how could you guys leave out this video?!

    1. Hi Stefanie,
      Thanks for offering up your thoughts (as well as an additional video!). We would love to send you a free Become a Natural T-shirt.
      Please email with your shipping information.

      Congrats and thanks again!

  17. A treadmill makes me think of about $700 dollars wasted on something that basically lies to us telling us we're faster by running in place on a road (belt) that is moving under us rather than us propelling our bodies mechanically correct on the earth with a proper set of footware.


  18. I just did :
    1k at 7.5mph
    1k at 7.75 mph
    2 k at 8mph
    500m at 9mph
    500m at 7 mph

    In a pair of f-lite 195s...

    stay classy! :)


  19. Boo to treadmills. I get so bored!!! They do come in handy when you can't run outside but I'd much rather be outside running in circles than inside staring at a wall.


  20. They bring to mind purgatory! I'd much rather get out the door and hit the trails!

    Medium :)

  21. Introduce an exercise bike and do 1km run at 6.5mph, 1km bike at 20mph. 4 reps.

  22. Unlike most - I prefer to run in the rain and in the cold. Treadmills for me are for the peak heat season in the South... and the single most expensive clothing hangar in the majority of homes.

    Much like Niel above, I like the Tabata approach:
    20 sec at 7.0
    10 sec at 2.5 for 4 minutes total
    1 mile at 80%
    1/2 mile at 95%
    1/2 mile at 80%
    Sleep like a baby...

    Zack (size L)

  23. I use the treadmill because there can be no cheating on pace! Once the pace is set, it's either do the work, or fall off the back. My favorite interval workout is the pyramid of pain. All intervals are done at 6 min. mile pace (my 5k race pace), incline at 2:

    5 min warm up
    400m race pace
    1 min jog recover
    800m race pace
    1 min 30 jog recover
    1200m race pace
    2 min jog recover
    1600m race pace
    2 min 30 jog recover
    1200m race pace
    2 min jog recover
    800m race pace
    1 min 30 jog recover
    400m race pace
    1 min jog recover
    10 minute warm down

    Recoveries are really short which makes this hard for me, but it goes fast!

    Ross (size m)

  24. I think intervals are the only way to make running on the treadmill somewhat entertaining. However, I don't do sprint intervals on the treadmill. There is something about that motorized belt machine that I just don't trust at very high speeds. I go to the track for that. But here is my fav interval routine for the 'mill:

    10 min warm up
    2min at a pace that you can just hold for that time (aka OMG pace)
    1min recovery pace

    I do 6-8 sets of those, and then 10 min cool down

    Also great: combining speed intervals with running form drills. I use the recovery pace moments to focus on specific elements of my running.

    1st recovery: focus on not pushing off but lifting the leg at the end of a step
    2nd recovery: focus on landing very softly
    3rd recovery: focus on cadence
    4th recovery: focus on posture


    It's a good way to get those elements fully set in my muscle memory and to keep the brain engaged.

    Size S please

  25. I usually do intervals outside, since I compete in cross country and track. During xc, I might do 4 to 6x1000m at aerobic pace and then 2x1000m at goal pace. For track, I do a lot of 400s at mile pace or a little faster, and some 800s at 600 pace.

    Size small

  26. I do my training on the road - living in South Africa has its perks as the weather is pretty bearable year-round. Mid-winter does get a bit chilly in the mornings with low single-digits but rarely ever below that (and winter is only about 3 months here anyway!)
    Our shorter interval running is done by way of hill-sprints... Some crazy idea i read about in a runner magazine - should have come with warning label though!!

    We do 10 reps of sprints up a quiet stretch of road 300 metres long, at an incline of about 5%.

    By going out at close to 100% effort on every rep, by the time you've run 5 of them, you're pretty much bushed! Especially if you're a distance runner like me who is not conditioned for sprints!!

    Well worth the effort as the results are amazing - better overall pace on long runs, far more energy when going up hills and a better set of toned limbs!!

    Try them out!

    Size large


  27. At my uni (Loughborough) we do lots off hard sessions on the track over the winter. One of the hardest and the one that sees the most progress is:

    20x400m (30secs recovery)

    We are meant to do them all sub 70seconds however as the time progresses through the session people start getting more fatigue in their legs and start to fade. But it is definitely a session I would recommend for any x-country runners or road runners that want to feel strong and go past people in the last few kms.


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  29. I personally only use treadmills if it is the only option left to do a run. For speed workouts I think tempo runs are best on the treadmill. It takes too long for the speed to ramp up/slow down for short percise interval training. Also the incline should be set at 1% to equal a non-treadmill workout. If you set the incline higher you will be forced to run more on the balls of your feet so you can practice that transition to mid-forefoot striking which is more efficient than heel striking.
    Mark Lundblad

  30. I use the treadmill to run consistent timed miles as a speed workout. I do 1 mile repeats locked in at a set speed with 2 minutes rest(walking around)

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