A forgotten about variable for progressive improvement in interval training
When you are executing a quality repetition workout, most runners typically think about either increasing the intensity of the effort or increasing the duration of the effort as their fitness improves.
A rule of thumb for a workout like this is that you should take enough recovery time to fully recover from that repetition before starting another rep. This lets you reach that consistent, predefined level of performance during every rep.
However, your workouts could become lengthy when only playing with the intensity and duration variables since the more difficult repetitions will take a long time to fully recover from.
If you want to progressively improve without letting workouts become too long, there is another variable you can play with: recovery.
Here is how to reinterpret your recovery:
You could choose to set a defined recovery time instead. Now, your goal is to improve upon your intensity within those reps from week to week instead while keeping the same recovery between reps.
A simple change to a "recovery-controlled" workout from an "intensity-controlled" workout means that your quality workouts are maintained without letting the workouts become too lengthy.
And, a perfect way to track your intensity when doing a workout like this is to use power data.
Running power data will be consistent from week to week so you have an apples-to-apples comparison over time.
Plus, running power has fantastic granularity so it is possible to even track improvements of just a single percentage point.
This kind of data is crucial when tracking progressive improvements, especially for quality repetition work.
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