The choice of training has been narrowed down a lot by research and science. Do your workouts fast and with intensity and then you don't have to spend hours in the gym. This is a nice concept, especially with all our time constraints in our lives. Now that we are slowly but surely embracing faster, higher intensity workouts we also need to embrace the right way to approach speed training, specifically running...

Speed training for us normal gym goers are usually also called interval training, something that you are more familiar with? Thought so. Interval training is basically you trying to increase your aerobic capacity, in other words your aerobic fitness in less time than you would think. No more 60 minutes on the treadmill 3 to 4 times per week. If that is the case at the moment, you better read on. Research has shown that you can increase your endurance and your recovery from intense exercise sessions by doing just one hour of interval training per week! Sounds much better than 4 hours per week. This magic interval training sessions have even help athletes improve their speed of recovery between sprints. So that they can actually attempt another sprint with less rest!

So what is interval training and how can it make everything I do faster? Interval training is basically a training method where you increase and decrease the intensity of the workout. You remember as a kid at school your trainer used to make you jog in a long line and then the kid at the back must sprint to the front and then so it goes on for many laps of the athletic field? Interval training, or as the Swedes call it, Fartlek (it means speed play, don't know so much about the play part...) The idea is to push yourself beyond your comfort zone for a while and then return to a comfortable pace. This way you will increase your speed, endurance and strength.

The question now is how to convert your old cardio sessions to the new and better interval sessions? This will all depend on your fitness levels of course and your goal. The idea is to set up a work vs recovery ratio for a specific workout. This will be in minutes or even seconds. Let's say that you can jog on a treadmill at a comfortable pace of 8 km/h. This will then serve as your warm up pace for a couple of minutes. Now set your speed at 9.5 km/h and run at that speed for a minute. Go back to your normal 8 km/h speed and maintain that for 3 minutes. This will give you a 1:3 ratio. Continue in this fashion for your full workout. This can be anything between 20 – 30 minutes and cool down for a couple of minutes.

When you start with interval training you must start conservatively and work your way up from there. Bear in mind that interval training will increase your fitness levels quickly. When this happens, your working heart rate will lower and you must increase either your running speed or incline that you run on or the interval ratio. You can increase the fast interval time and decrease your recovery interval time. This will also help to keep your interval workouts interesting and boredom will not set in as fast as your usual hour stints on the treadmill.

A nice way to get in some fresh air is to go and do your intervals outside, yes, no machine with a convenient timer on but you do have many other advantages. Look for a slight hill close to your house, measure it out, now you know exactly how long it is, sprint up the hill and walk or jog slowly down. You can even go for a normal run in your neighbourhood and adjust your speed between lamp posts, run fast between two lamp post and jog slowly between the next two.

The key with these type of workouts is to plan. Like any other workout, you need to plan. Don't just go into the gym and try and wing it. It never works. A second thing to remember is to follow your plan and if you do deviate, write your deviation down and the reason why you did not stick to your plan. Do these workouts once or twice if you are only starting out and give yourself a good 2 to 3 days rest between these sessions to recover, when you become more adapt to these type of workouts, you can start doing 3 sessions a week with a day rest in between.

These sessions are tough. You need motivation to do this right so a suggestion would be to get yourself a training partner to help with motivation and give you a push when you don't feel like it. A training partner keeps you accountable for pitching up to your workouts and will help you through the tough days.

To train fast is the key to be successful in your workouts. It cuts your training time by more than half and will improves your performance by miles. Keep it realistic, have a plan and you will not be dissapointed.