The only way we get faster is by actually running faster. While we can’t push ourselves all the time without inviting injury, working hard is the only way we get better. The best way to practice running faster is with interval work. Bursts of speed with a period of standing, walking or jogging rest between repetitions.
So which kind of rest is best for you? Jogging or walking? The choice you end up making can play a major role in how intense your workout ends up being. Varying the type of rest you use during a workout can also be a good gauge of how your fitness is improving. Did you walk for rest the first few times but now jogging rest is feeling good? As long as the work portions are the same pace and effort, you’re clearly increasing your fitness.
While you might want to stop and stand to catch your breath, jogging rest has big benefits. Continuing to move will help clear lactic acid and waste in muscles, keeping your body ready to work for the next repetition and workout intensity high. Lactate levels drop the most when recovery lasts more then 90 seconds. This length of rest is usually associated with repetitions lasting three to five minutes or longer.
Slow walking has its own set of benefits. It allows for body to recover by clearing lactic acid and muscle waste without the extra stress of having to continue working. This is the most used and probably best choice for most basic workouts.
Standing rest doesn’t keep your blood moving very much. Bent over, panting, hands on knees standing means you’ll face a build up of lactic acid and muscle waste during your next repetition. That makes legs feel heavy and worn out, simulating that tired feeling at the end of a race without having to rack up all the miles beforehand. On the other hand, your supply of power creating phosphocreatine refills when you’re standing. This type of rest is best used when you’re working on top speed. Repeats less than 90 seconds mean you’re burning through that phosphocreatine and need to let it refresh before taking off again.
Of course, standing, walking and easy jogging rest aren’t your only options. You can use marathon pace to recover from 10k pace intervals. Not recovering fully between intervals will help you get tougher for race day and become more comfortable being uncomfortable.
When in doubt about what type of rest is best to get the most our of your speed session, seek the advice of a professional. A coach can help you design the right kind of workouts to reach your goals without risking injury or overtraining.