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Interval Training with Jeff Sabatka, DPT

Running hard for a long time takes hard work. I have been running and racing competitively for over 10 years from junior high to college and beyond. I have won Xterra Fruita, second at Xterra Aspen Valley, been top five amateur at Xterra PanAm championships in Las Vegas and Beaver Creek Colorado, raced in ITU triathlon world championships in Chicago, and ITU off road triathlon world champs in Sardinia Italy, which I was the first American finisher, and won the inaugural, and snowy, Foothills 14K that was put on by the BRC. Throughout the years I have done countless different workouts to help improve speed, efficiency, increase lactate threshold, and push myself to my limits. After graduating college, my training focus has shifted from running only to triathlons, Xterra, and Ski mountaineering. With all my training and racing experience I always come back to a few “money” workouts.

Here is one of my favorite workouts that focuses on changing speed and simulates the variability that occurs during racing. This workout can be done on the road if you can measure it, but on the track is the easiest. Take 2 minutes of recovery jogging in between each repetition:

By using various distances and intensities, the body can be trained to tap into different energy systems while becoming more efficient at those specific paces. Lower intensities and longer distances train the body’s ability to utilize and burn fat, while high intensities and shorter distances train the body to use carbohydrates. Start with one set and work up to 3-4 rounds.  

Hills. Scary, as they are challenging to any runner throughout a race course. Increasing efficiency and strength by practicing running up hill can make them less daunting and potentially more enjoyable. Not to mention hills can make you faster and stronger while trying to PR on Run to the Pub. Find a hill with an incline that is about 5-10% that will take about 30 to 60 seconds to get to the top of (Peet’s hill would do just fine). Start with 5-8 repetitions and work up to 12-14.  

If The Rut is on the race schedule, but can’t get outside, this treadmill hill repeat workout will get the heart rate up quick while feeling like running up Bone Crusher! Try this: pick a speed that is considered to be a recovery run pace and keep it there for the WHOLE workout. It might seem easy at first but running at 6 to 10% is no walk in the park.

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Jeff Sabatka