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Cruise Intervals: The Need For Speed

“There’s really only one secret to going fast. Going fast.”

The sage advice above came from my assistant coach at practice last night. He even added a pause between sentences for dramatic effect. It does sound a bit corny, but the statement couldn’t be more true. If you want to race fast, you have to train fast. No seasoned athlete ever set a PR by slogging endless miles in Zone 2. There’s a time and place for slow and steady training. But once that base is build, it is time to incorporate more speed work. The unofficial season opener here in the Twin Cities, the Buffalo Triathlon, is about 12 weeks away and now represents a good time to up the intensity a bit.

Dubbed “Cruise Intervals” by Jack Daniels, short repeats at or just below your threshold effort are a great way to build speed safely. To start, you’ll need to determine your lactate threshold. Then, once per week focus on a workout built around this Zone 4/Threshold heart rate. Start with smaller intervals of 2 or 3 minutes with total time spent in Zone 4/Threshold between 10 and 15 minutes. After a couple weeks of adaptation, you should be able to increase the duration of the intervals as well as total time. One key is to keep recovery time between sets short. Here is an example workout:

Warm Up
– 10 min easy jog
– Dynamic warm ups
– 5 min w/ 5 x 50m strides
– 5 min build effort
Main Set
– 4 x 5 min @ Zone 4/Threshold (2 min recovery)
– 5 min Zone 2
Warm Down
– 15 min decrease effort from Z2 to walk
– Stretch

The above could just as easily be a cycling workout by substituting in one leg drills for dynamic warm ups and spin ups for strides.

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