How much rest between running intervals

Intervals will help you diversify your running workouts in terms of distance and intensity. Ekaterina Preobrazhenskaya, head coach of the Marathonica running school, explains how to do interval training and how much time to rest between runs.

What are intervals

First, let’s see what interval running training is and why they are needed. Intervals are a repetitive alternation of fast running and rest phases. So in one workout you can do bonlonger distance at high intensity than if you were running all at once.

For example, 7 km at a competitive pace feels like a challenge, while 7 reps of 1 km with a rest in between isn’t that scary. Also, if you run a 7 km segment, the pace will decrease towards the end of it, and during the intervals you can keep it even.

Finally, the increase and decrease in the pulse develops its elasticity and also “pumps” the body’s ability to restore normal heart rhythm.

It seems that intervals are only suitable for advanced runners. However, it should be noted that the beginner’s training according to the run-walk-run method can also be called interval training: after all, it alternates running and walking phases. Additionally, maintaining a slow pace between running and walking can be as difficult for a beginner as it is for an experienced runner to train hard with accelerations.

How to Schedule Interval Training

Here you need to adhere to several principles:

  1. The distance of the intervals must correspond to your capacities: it is better to start with short accelerations and gradually increase their number and duration.
  1. The intensity of the accelerations can be different: from running on the pulse of the anaerobic metabolism to maximum accelerations, depending on the purpose of the training.
  1. Rest between accelerations – jogging or walking. It does not affect the result of training, but often changing the type of movement is uncomfortable, so jogging is better. The duration of the rest should be chosen according to the tasks.

For a short rest, for example, in 30 seconds, the pulse does not have time to recover, and the goal of this training is to break down a piece of complex tempo into several shorter ones, which will allow you not to slow down , and also psychologically make training more comfortable. The load will remain high.

A long rest – more than two and a half minutes – is suitable for the longest and fastest intervals. Usually there are few repetitions, for example, only two. Each interval is like a separate tempo, but resting between them will give you the ability to give your all on each.

Medium rest (90 seconds to 2.5 minutes) is the middle ground and the most commonly used option. It is suitable for medium-long intervals on ANSP (1000-3000 m) or short intervals but at maximum speed (200-800 m).

How much rest between races

Examples of Running Intervals

short break

  • 3 sets of 3 x 400m with 30s rest and 400m rest between sets.

The pace is as high as possible, faster than the target on the race. The goal of this training is to train the nervous system to maintain a high intensity load and tolerate a high heart rate, as well as developing speed and VO2max. This training is optimal to prepare for distances of up to 10 km.

  • 10 times 800 m on the PANO after 1 minute of jogging.

This will allow you to run a total of 8 km at your target pace for a half marathon without trying too hard. Suitable for the beginning of the “half” preparation cycle.

  • 4 times up to 15 minutes on the TAN after 1 minute of jogging.

Such training is suitable for a marathon runner a month before the race, as it requires a good level of preparation to carry it out. Long-term high-speed running and under-recovery on vacation build high-speed endurance, and short jogging intervals make it even easier.

Average rest

  • 7 repetitions of 1000 km above the PANO with a rest of one and a half minutes.

Development of speed endurance, both physical and psychological. Ideal for 5k and 10k runners, but also useful for half marathon training.

  • 3 times 3 km at a competitive pace after 2 minutes of jogging.

In the middle of the half marathon preparation cycle, developing speed endurance.

  • 12 repetitions of 1 km at or slightly above the TAN after 2 minutes of rest.

Training for marathon runners: allows you to get used to speed above the target, which gives the feeling of not too high a pace during the race itself, which, in turn, makes it easier to maintain it for a long time .

long rest

  • 3 km above TAN, 4 minutes rest, 5 repetitions of 200 m for a maximum of 200 m of jogging.

Such training allows you to give your best in the first segment and then add a little more work to develop speed. Ideal to prepare for the 5 km, but it is important to give yourself enough time to recover afterwards.

  • 2 repetitions of 5 km on PANO with a rest of 4 minutes.

It develops endurance at speed, allows you to learn to focus on the target pace and maintain it for a long time. At the same time, a long rest makes it possible to perform the second segment no slower than the first.

This workout is suitable for both half-marathoners and marathoners, but marathoners can add up to five reps of 200m at the end.


So, when choosing the duration of rest, one should be guided by the rule that the more difficult the intervals themselves, the longer the rest. At the same time, it is important to understand that extending rest is not always a way to force yourself to run more, as the interval load itself must be correlated to the level of training and the tasks.

Most often, runners use a rest of medium length – 200 m in 2 minutes. Intervals with short and long rest are already more rare and specific to certain training phases. If it is not possible to consult a trainer, choose such a load level yourself, at which in 2 minutes between intervals the pulse will recover quite well, at least up to 130 beats per minute.

Read more: Why run intervals when preparing for a marathon