My first interval workout before the Pittsburgh Marathon

There’s less than one month less before the Pittsburgh Marathon, yet I have done no interval training for it until today. In ordinary circumstances, I would have been doing weekly interval training for some time now, but I had a late start with training in the winter, and so I simply have not felt ready for hard interval training until this week! Up till now, I have simply been scrambling to increase mileage and survive the long runs without injury and burnout, and this has been challenging enough: last week, I was fortunate to bounce back from clear overtraining. But now I’m actually starting to feel strong, so it’s time to sharpen up with interval training.

Why interval training?

Interval training is well-known from research to be extremely beneficial for improving performance at distance running. It builds the body as well as the mind.

My workout

A decade ago, I used to do interval training on the CMU track of Gesling Stadium, but I never really liked running around a synthetic track. There are other options, of course. I have good memories of running around the 1K dirt track (not the synthetic 400m track) at the oval in Schenley Park.

But nowadays, I find that the most convenient place for interval training is a trail loop near home in Frick Park that just happens to be very close to 800m in length. The drawback, of course, is that the length of this loop means I can only do intervals of multiples of 800m. Unfortunately, I prefer doing 1200m long intervals, while I find 1600m to be on the brutal side for an interval workout. But 800m will do for my first interval workout of the year!

I ended up doing 6x800. Oh, and it turned out to be a heat training workout too, because it suddenly got very warm, like summer already. I really hope that it cools down quickly and stays cool for the Pittsburgh Marathon! I don’t want summer conditions to come until after the marathon.

After 15 minutes of easy running, I launched into the intervals.

Purely by subjective feel, I ended up running these intervals in an average of about 3:37 each, with 1:50 timed recovery:

The numbers don’t mean much to me right now, except as a checkpoint for the future. The workout was pretty tough. I felt semi-pukey and exhausted by the end!


I am now running only in Luna Sandals. I still have chafing issues, but we’ll see if they clear up with time.

Wearing Luna Sandals

Luna Sandals

Bare feet

What about high-intensity interval training?

High-intensity interval training has become very popular in recent years, and for good reason. I was doing some on the treadmill in the winter in order to kickstart my running, but then put it aside when I left the treadmill.

I expect to start incorporating serious HIIT into my training to get even sharper.


It’s good to finally be back to interval training, after basically some years of not being serious and strong and disciplined enough to do it systematically.

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