I first heard of the Easy Interval Method (EIM) while speaking to Coach Ron George during one of our podcast recordings. The book “Easy Interval Method” has an intriguing title that definitely evokes interest and at the same time a sigh of disbelief. How can interval training be easy? That was the question that led me to read this book.
The running training book universe is dominated by American coaches and authors, and it is very rare to see books by coaches from other countries. Even rarer are books on training that are very different from established training methods. The author of this book is Klass Lok, a former middle and long distance runner from the Netherlands who is now a coach. He finished second in the European Indoor Championship and holds two Dutch national records in the 10,000m and 1500m. The book is largely about the training method he used. Unlike other training books, it is short, with 178 pages, and most readers can finish it in a week.
The book begins with the origins of EIM, which was developed by the author’s coach, Herman Verheul. Verheul’s ideas contradicted the established training methods of the time, which emphasized high-volume steady-state training combined with hard interval runs. Instead, Verheul advocated for relaxed, easy interval runs. He was inspired by several European coaches of the time, including the great Hungarian coach Mihaly Igloi.
Easy Interval Method
As the name implies, interval training is the foundation of this method, and every run includes a speed component. Instead of strenuous anaerobic work, the method recommends relaxed interval runs, and long runs with surges instead of long steady-state runs.
The book discusses two main concepts that underpin this approach.
Intro and Pedigree
The first chapter introduces the method. Because the method is unconventional, the author spends a significant amount of time explaining the ideas behind it and why it is a better choice than traditional high-mileage training methods, which he refers to as “heavy running.”
The second and third chapters of the book contain a number of success stories and training regimens for runners of all levels, from elite to recreational. Piet de Peuter, a Dutch coach who uses the Easy Interval Method, has trained several Kenyan athletes, including Geoffrey Kirui and Faith Kipyegon. It is fascinating to see the training schedules of several elite athletes, including Silke Schmidt and Klaas Lok himself in his prime.
The Science behind the Method
There are chapters dedicated to the core ideas of the method, explaining the science and physiology to support the efficacy of the method. Chapter 4 explains the science of Lactate Threshold, and goes into the details of how to determine lactate threshold, pace zones and how they affect Lactate threshold development. The Easy Interval Method primarily involves running in Zone 2 and Zone 3, and occasionally in Zone 4.
Chapter five is the core of the Easy Interval Method, which focuses on reactivity. In this chapter, the author emphasizes the importance of the running economy and why steady-state running has a negative impact on it. Muscle reactivity (also known as “bounce” or “elastic energy”) is essential for running economy and, as a result, speed. The method does not completely eliminate long runs. Instead, it is recommended that long distance runners include surges in their long runs to maintain their reactivity. Lok also emphasizes the importance of strength training in this chapter and provides some exercises to improve reactivity.
The Easy Interval method includes several types of interval runs, such as 200m, 400m, 1000m, and 2000m runs, as well as long runs with surges. Chapter 6 is what every runner will look forward to, as it goes into detail on how to run each type of interval and provides guidance on how to run them effectively based on your race distance and goals. The chapter also includes pace tables for each type of interval, based on the runner’s recent 10k time. Unlike some other training methods that can be quite complex, I found the tables to be very easy to follow and use. I also found that the interval training paces based on my recent 10k time were quite relaxed for an interval training session.
Chapters 8 to 13 cover training plans for a variety of distances, from middle distance to 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon. I was more interested in Chapters 12 and 13, which cover half marathon and marathon training plans, and I read through them in detail. While I haven’t used the training plans yet, I liked how they were organized.
The training schedule is highly flexible, allowing experienced runners to tailor it to their own needs. For example, while the plans include long runs, the frequency and duration of these runs are up to the runner. For a marathon, the book recommends 2-hour long runs, but suggests that these can be extended to 3 hours depending on the runner’s level of experience. There are also separate schedules available based on the number of runs a runner does per week, from 3 to 8 runs per week.
Here is a sample of how the first week of the 4-runs/week marathon schedule looks like from the book.
|Easy endurance run 1.5-2 hr w surges + 3x100m
Beyond the Training Method
The author’s strong opinions on how a runner should run, these are evident throughout the book. For example, his opinion that forefoot strike is the preferred running style is questionable. The book is filled with such opinions, such as those on super shoes and heel-to-toe drop, which I believe do not add much value to the book.
Overall, I appreciate the author’s effort to make the method more practical by providing guidance. The book contains several helpful tips, such as guidance on how master runners, novice runners, and young runners can use the method.
Easy Interval Method (EIM) is a new and innovative approach to running training that deviates from the high-mileage training that most runners are used to. It is more subjective than other popular training methods, such as those from Jack Daniels, Pete Pfitzinger, Hal Higdon, or Bill Pierce. However, the training schedules are much more flexible, and I appreciate that there is a lot of freedom for runners to experiment.
The book is available for purchase on Amazon India. It is an imported edition, so the price is higher than usual. However, it is worth the investment for those who are looking to experiment with new training methods and improve their speed.
Aravind is a techie, running geek, and a marathoner. He is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. He loves all things technology and technology in running, with special interest in running form analysis.