What Is Pyramid Speed Interval Workout?
Endurance training exercises involve a mix of different intensities to ensure that the system is shocked metabolically as well as physiologically. Running speed workouts are an essential component of training. They are meant to stress the body and teach it to utilize oxygen and carbohydrates or fat for burning efficiently. These exercises help improve acceleration and peak speed by engaging fast-twitch muscle fibers that generate greater and quicker force.
A pyramid workout plan or fartlek pyramid is one, wherein the intervals start with a certain length (distance or time) and progressively move in steps to shorter lengths. Then, you reverse the order and come back in steps to the original length that you began with. So, just like in a pyramid, you go up the triangle and then come down. For example, if you start with a 200m interval, you will progress to 400m, 600m, 1000m, and then come down to 800m, 600m, 400m, and finally 200m.
What are the benefits of a pyramid speed interval workout?
Here are a few ways how a pyramid training program can be useful.
- It helps in increasing oxygen delivery to the leg muscles
- It contributes towards raising the stride length and cadence
- It leads to improved leg strength and power
- It results in a better running economy; so, there is a reduction in the amount of energy you use at a certain speed
- It aids in the rise of carbohydrate storage in the muscles
In addition, here are a few more plus points of pyramid workout:
Variety: It gives a break in the monotony of standard speed workouts by mixing different sizes of interval running for beginners.
Different paces: In a pyramid workout, you can vary your pace for the intervals and thereby hit a range of speeds, making it challenging.
Finishing kick: A pyramid workout, by virtue of its varying distances and paces, gets you to push when fatigue has set in. This is especially so in the Reverse Pyramid, wherein you start with the longer interval, work your way down to the shorter interval and then again climb back up to the longer interval. For example, this is how you will go: 1000m – 800m – 600m – 400m – 200m – 400m – 600m – 800m – 1000m. This kind of progression makes it tough for your legs to respond when you need to increase the length of the interval when tired.
Also read: Strength Exercises to Run Faster
Are pyramid intervals for beginners or advanced runners?
The beauty of pyramid intervals is that they can be structured in a way that beginners can execute them, ensuring that these workouts work as effectively for them as they do for advanced runners.
A pyramid workout has two variables, which include distance and speed or time and speed. The distances can be of 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m, 1000m, 1200m, 1600m, and 2000m. Speed or pace can be of half-marathon (HM) pace, 10K pace, 5K pace, or 3K pace.
Pyramid workouts can be drawn up for different race distance requirements. The paces and intervals will vary. You could have pyramid intervals for running a mile up to the full marathon. Listed below are a few basic examples of the structure of pyramid workouts. The pace and recovery are based on the science of speed. A training schedule prepared by a coach may help you determine an appropriate structure for your specific requirements.
Distance–speed pyramid workout – An example
- 200m @ 3K pace – Recover with a jog or walk for half the interval or 100m
- 400m @ 5K pace – Recover with a jog or walk for half the interval or 200m
- 800m @ 10K pace – Recover with a jog or walk for half the interval or 400m
- 1000m @ HM pace – Recover with a jog for half the interval or 500m
Now, move back from 1000m – 800m – 400m – 200m.
Time–speed pyramid workout – An example
- 1 minute @ 3K pace – Recover with a jog or walk for 1 minute
- 2 minutes @ 5K pace – Recover with a jog or walk for 2 minutes
- 4 minutes @ 10K pace – Recover with a jog or walk for 2 minutes
- 5 minutes @ HM pace – Recover with a jog for 1 minute
Now, move back from 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.
Pyramid Intervals are performed at various speeds, and there is a likelihood of injury. Make sure you have sufficient base mileage under your belt before you take up these workouts. A focus on strength and flexibility will help your muscles, tendons, and ligaments withstand the load. It is also important that you do an extended warm-up before you launch into such a speed training session. You may do this session once a week when there are about six-eight weeks left for your race. It is an efficient way to spike up your endurance and speed.
1. Noakes T. Lore of Running. Human Kinetics, 2002.
2. Daniels J. Daniels’ Running Formula. Human Kinetics, 2013.