Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Easy Guide to Cruise Intervals

Last week I did one of my favorite workouts: Cruise intervals!

For the first few years I ran, I had no idea what they were. I saw something on the McMillan calculator about cruise intervals and wondered what they were, but I didn't figure it out until I read this training book. (There is a 3rd edition out now, which I plan to purchase since my original copy is getting ragged.)

          It's all quite simple, really. 

Cruise intervals are designed to take a tempo workout and break it up into manageable pieces.
There is no reason you can't take a tempo workout and alter it to make it mentally or physically more manageable. In the end a 4 mile steady tempo, and a 4 mile tempo broken into pieces with tiny breaks, will both have your heart and legs working hard for 4 miles!

Here's the secret: Break any tempo up into 5, 10, 15 minute segments and allow 1-2 minutes of easy running in between. Keep your heart rate in the tempo zone while you are tempo running, and don't let it drop into your easy heart rate zone during the rests, but keep running (not walking) at an easy pace. 

If you feel you need to walk during the 1-2 minutes, you are probably running your tempo pace too hard.


Tip: 20:00 to 30:00 is a good length of time to spend at Cruise Interval / tempo/ threshold pace for a workout.

Here is an example of the workout done as mile repeats. 

This is simple to do using a GPS watch set to "autolap". 
If your watch is set to lap every mile (or kilometer), it will beep to stop the cruise interval. You then can press "lap" after the 1-2:00 rests, and start running tempo pace until it beeps again (on it's own if it's programmed) . Then you are automatically in your recovery pace until you start the next 1 mile lap.

Remember: It is important to run this in the correct zone, whether you run it by pace or by heart rate. The idea is NOT to kill yourself. Refrain from trying to run these as all-out efforts, which increases the likelihood of injury, and misses the purpose of increasing your lactate threshold. This ► is my favorite calculator for determining your correct workout pace.

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Recent events that put a smile on my face: 

An extra special run with a genuinely beautiful soul(Forest Park~ Portland, OR)


My three musketeers on a family weekend to OMSI.


Two extra-cheesy pizza eaters :D

I've been away from my blog for too long and now I have a billion things to post on and a shoe review I can't wait to write! But running is going well, so this is a problem I can live with ;D
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What puts a smile on your face lately?
Have you ever tried Cruise Intervals?
What's your favorite speed workout?




34 comments:

  1. Great workout! Cruise intervals sounds so much kinder than mile repeats. Love the greenery you have in your neck of the woods! I haven't seen grass or foliage (other than pine needles) in months!

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    1. Glad you like it, Marcia! Yeah, we never really go brown here, but it will get very green in spring and fall. Hope you can come out some time and run some trails with me. :)

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  2. Great workouts, well done! I don't do real speed work but when I'm fit and in shape I throw in some tempo runs. Great photos!

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    1. Thanks so much, Johann! Great to hear from you :)

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  3. I haven't tried cruise intervals, but tempos intimidate me, so maybe this is a happy medium I can handle.

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    1. Oh, yeah. I think you could handle this. :) You could dial in your half pace, give yourself the easy breaks, and go a lot longer too.

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  4. Great idea! I never really thought about breaking up a tempo run, but it makes total sense. Will give it a try! Thanks!

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    1. Glad you like the idea :) . Let me know how it goes if you try it!!

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  5. This is very helpful, thanks. I want to integrate some kind of speed/tempo work into my routine, but i always feel like I'm failing if the tempo run is shorter than 30 minutes. However, my fitness is probably not quite at that level yet. This workout gives me a place to start. THANKS!

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    1. Under 3O minutes: Not a fail! If you run the calculator pace, 20 minutes is great and all that is recommended. If you go over 40, some calcualtors/tables adjust the pace slower.

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  6. Thanks for the running calculator link and the watch tip for doing the cruise intervals! Forest Park - gorgeous!

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    1. You're welcome, Tina!! Hope you have a fantastic day :)

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  7. Your kiddos are getting so grown up!

    Thanks for sharing this. Tempo runs ALWAYS get in a my head in a way that speedwork or long runs don't. I do love speedwork, especially 800's...my first speedwork ever was mile repeats while half marathon training, so the shorter intervals almost feel like cheating. :)

    A smile on my face...um...the upcoming weekend? Even that's got me a little down because family stuff (which is admittedly more important) is getting in the way of some stuff I really want to be doing the next couple weekends. Gotta keep my priorities in order, but sometimes being grownup isn't all it's cracked up to be.

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    1. Try it!! I bet you'll love it!! Time for a shiny new half PR for you :)

      I understand about the balancing act.. I hope things will work out so that everyone can be happy♥ Being a mom is a challenge, but you are doing fabulous at it!!

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  8. Cruise intervals sound fun! Thanks for sharing your tips, and glad your running is going well!

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    1. Thanks Sherry! I hope all is going well for you. Can't wait to go see what you have been up to :)

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  9. I'm definitely a fan! So much so, it felt weird when I did a standing recovery 400 workout the other day! It looks like you're running is going well too! Keep up the good work:)

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    1. Ha!! Yeah, that would be a fun workout too.. I'm sure your 400m were intense though. Vo2max? Thanks Adrienne. Always good to hear from you!!

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  10. Thanks for posting such great info! Such sweet family pics too! Hope your week is going wonderful! Carri~A Running bee

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    1. Thanks Carri! It's going super so far.. even with freezing rain. :) Thank you for commenting. I hope you are doing well!

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  11. Cruise intervals are my favorite way to do tempo-type runs on the treadmill...they make it so much more mentally bearable!

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    1. I cannot imagine on the treadmill!! But I know that anything is possible if you take it one bite at a time :) So good to hear from you!

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  12. Good reminder. I was doing them a few years back - between 5 and 10k race pace, so a bit more relaxing than 'all out' 5 x 1000m session!

    Running with no hamstring/ITB pain puts a smile on my face. Favourite speed workout used to be 10 x 300m in 54s with 100m walk breaks. If I tried it now they'd be closer to 70s!

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  13. Super glad to hear that your hammy is finally coming around!
    Now that the leg is cooperating, we can expect to see some more speed sessions, I hope! Thanks for commenting, Ewen :)

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  14. Thanks for the lesson on cruise intervals! They sound a lot like the progression-type runs that I do for my long runs because I take a minute break between each mile. (Although, I really do WALK during that minute!)

    Beautiful picture from our run in Forest Park. Wish we could do it again this weekend in the snow! :) So happy you and your family had a good weekend and we got to spend some quality time together. Have a great weekend! xo

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    1. Yes! When we were talking during our run it reminded me a bit of your long runs you told me about. No walking for these though ;) However, I do think I might give that LR style a shot as an experiment!
      Forest Park in snow.. that would be an adventure. I bet the natives are loving it!! Always good to hear from you, K!

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  15. You are super speedy! Great work out. I need to start doing more one mile intervals I had been doing them by minutes but I need to change it up!
    What a great looking family you have :)

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    1. Thanks! I love them :)
      ... Minutes works too! Glad to hear from you ♥

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  16. I see you have spent wonderful time with your beautiful family. Great photos.
    The cruise intervals are a far memory...... when I was a runner.

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    1. Family is such a blessing! I hope you have a bunch of good running memories, Stefano. You are still a runner!
      Thanks so much for commenting! Hope you have a great weekend.

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  17. Great workout! I'm trying to do something different like this, each week, to mix things up.

    I'm glad your running is going so well!

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    1. Mixing things up keeps us healthy and from getting bored!
      I see you have a new race report up :) Can't wait to go give it a read!

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  18. Oh I love this! I really quite hate long tempo runs (though I do them, and cope with them) but cruise intervals would be perfect for me (and my clients). I'm getting all these great interval workouts recently and it's really invigorated my running and that of my clients. Cruise intervals ON THEIR WAY over her in the UK! BTW - so happy your running is going so well!

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    1. Thanks Petra! Hope your clients will enjoy the workouts :) Keeping things interesting can be tough for a coach. Great to hear from you!

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