Fitness expert Joanna Hall answers your questions

I’m a novice runner and currently training for a 3.5-mile fun run. I’ve got only six weeks to go, and my current time is 25 minutes for two miles. Any tips for getting a decent time without killing myself?

Good for you – it’s great to have a goal to work towards, and sometimes a time pressure can make us more focused. One of the best ways to increase cardiovascular fitness is to introduce interval training to an already established base fitness level. Running for longer, adding an extra workout session or introducing a different aerobic exercise can all create overload to help you transport oxygen around the body, but if you want to improve how your body uses the oxygen in your muscles, you need to start high-intensity work.

This involves training above your comfort zone, at a point where your body can no longer satisfy all its energy needs from the oxygen you breathe; other energy systems need to contribute, producing waste products such as lactic acid and increased acidity, which can cause discomfort in the muscles. The result, however, is that you will be able to run your race faster.

My suggestion has a simple structure, but is time-efficient and results-oriented. Each week, complement your training with two interval training sessions, and take a rest day – or, better still, two on non-consecutive days.

Weeks 1-2: Run hard for 200m/ run easy for 200m, six times.

Weeks 3-4: Run hard for 200m/ run easy for 200m, eight times.

Weeks 5-6: Run hard for 200m/run easy for 200m, 10 times.

Ease off your training the week of the race and complete only one interval session at the start of the week.

Go for it – and enjoy!

Joanna Hall is a fitness expert ( Send your exercise questions to Weekend, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER ([email protected]).

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