How much rest should you take between track intervals?

How much rest should you take between track intervals?

Last week I talked about hitting the track, but there is one major ingredient to track workouts that often gets overlooked:

How much rest should you take between track intervals?

How much rest should you take between track intervals?

Hitting the track is challenging but rewarding. I have personally seen results as I slowly make improvements in my own running again. While I’m nowhere near PR shape, I am getting faster. This is something I didn’t know much about until recently.

One of the most common questions about doing track intervals is how much rest you should take between track intervals?

There is no exact time or blanket rest time for every situation. In fact, different intervals and different outcomes require different rest. You’ll be surprised to learn there isn’t much research on the perfect length of rest for intervals. Often, the amount of rest is prescribed on a needs basis. Studies point to: How much rest should you take between track intervals to complete your workout at the target pace?

Shorter Rest Vs. Longer Rest: 

Rest is one of the most important variables to take into account when creating workouts. How much rest you take between track intervals depends on your goals. The amount of rest can change the intensity of a workout.

Shorter Rest:

When deciding how much rest you should take between track intervals, shorter rest creates more intensity. Your heart rate remains high.

What happens if the rest is too short? Recovery will be insufficient, and you won’t be able to hold the pace you want.

Longer Rest: 

Longer rest allows you to run harder because you can obviously rest more. Typically with longer rest periods, you can race pace or maybe slightly harder because you have more of a chance to recover.

What happens when the rest is too long? If you rest too long and become fully recovered, your body will run faster than intended. This sounds great in theory. However, you will set yourself up for thinking you are fitter than you are. Example: If I took 5 minutes of rest between each 400-meter repeat, I could probably run them around 5:30 pace. I might *think*, I’m in 5:30 pace 5k shape…but I am not.  We know running is equal parts mental as physical.

A Common Guideline:

One of the most common guidelines for how much rest you should take between track intervals is between 50-100% as long as the repeat. So if you run 8X400s and finish each one around 90 seconds, you will want to take between 45-90 seconds per interval.

It Also Depends on Your Fitness:

As your fitness increases, your recoveries often decrease. You might start at 90 seconds per 400 and slowly work down to less. This is something that is easy to overthink.


What is the difference between standing rest, walking rest, and jogging rest?

When it comes to how much rest you should take between track intervals, it’s important to discuss the type of rest you’re taking as well.

Standing Rest:

Standing rest allows you to recover as much as possible between sets intervals. It allows you to push harder on interval sets and lets you catch your breath. Do not sit as that causes muscles to tighten up and get started again.

Walking Rest:

Usually, walking rest is the most common option. Walking rest will keep blood flowing to your legs and allow you to recover.

Jogging Rest: 
This should be extremely slow for you. You aren’t trying to continue your intervals or break records, but the point is to stay moving. Slow jogging allows blood to keep flowing through your legs. Many runners use this for longer workouts, such as mile repeats or even longer.

As you continue to run intervals, you’ll figure out what is best for you. Like the workout itself, how much rest you take between track intervals plays an important role in what you want to achieve from a workout.

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Questions for you:

What is your favorite workout?

How much rest do you generally take between intervals?