This is the second post in our 5K Beginner’s Series! Each Monday for 6 weeks we will be looking at different topics to help you get ready for your first (or next) 5K. These will also go right along with our 6 week 5K training plan.

If you haven’t gotten that yet, I encourage you to get it now! If you started that plan last week you should be right on track to have a great race for a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot! If you are a little behind, that’s ok! Go get that plan and start at the beginning. If you skip a week, skip week 5 so you can gradually build up. You will also want to take a look at post 1 in this series on the importance of a warm up.

If you have been following the plan for the last week, you will notice I do almost all of my running in intervals. This is how I got my start in running, and it wasn’t until later that my mother (who is a more accomplished runner than I am) told me about Jeff Galloway.

Jeff is probably the biggest proponent of the Run-Walk method out there. To boil his philosophy down, He says every run should be done run/walk and set intervals based off of your speed. He has people run a mile as fast as they can and bases them length of their intervals off of that. As athletes progress, they increase the time they run, but the intervals stay the same.

My mother has had great success with that, and even ran a full marathon based off Jeff’s training and books. My main issue is that following his plan does not lend itself to athletes getting faster. They are simply going further.

I look at intervals as a chance for you to run fast than you could if your were running for the full workout. This gives your muscles the chance to work at a quicker pace and get use to that pace over time while reducing the risk for injury. The walking portions allow your muscles time to rest so that you can spend more time at a faster pace.

I also will throw in some constant running session to build endurance each week (for intermediate runners). In this case, the intervals are about getting faster, and the long runs are about going further. As the training progresses, we increase the length of the running intervals and decrees the amount of rest to help you work on your muscular endurance (your ability to run longer AND faster).

On your next interval session, try to pick up the pace a little bit. Push yourself. And then on the rests, take it easy. You can keep pushing without giving your muscles time to recover.

Let’s make this a conversation. I want to hear your thoughts on intervals. Do you push hard all time time? Do you do intervals at all? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

Also, stay tuned for each the rest of the posts in the 5K Beginner’s Series. You can sign up to get all my posts in your inbox as soon as I post them, along with some great freebies!