To put it in the simplest terms, workouts that scare you make you better. They probably scare you for a reason, that being they are hard and probably uncomfortable. Sometimes you may think unreasonably hard, but you will never know if you are capable unless you try. Sometimes all it takes is someone to believe in you and your abilities more than you believe in yourself. Then you break through your barriers and see results.
That person can be a coach, for me it was a coach, many coaches. From high school coaches to now I see paces that I think, “are they crazy? nope definitely not happening” and then I try. I give it my best shot and realize “okay, maybe they are right” or “I didn’t quite get there but I was close!”. That realization empowers you to dig deeper and see what you are made of. It pushes you forward, motivates you.
I am not saying that you will 100% crush every workout that scares you, some will not go as planned and you will have moments of doubt, but as long as you keep pushing through one of those workouts will go right and your mindset will completely change. Those workouts and moments might be rare but they are magical. It is just like race day, you never know what will happen but sometimes the stars align and everything is perfect!
Workouts that scare you are not comfortable. It isn’t your nice easy jog route that you are used to. It is different, whether it be the length or the pace, the workout itself or everything combined. Being outside your comfort zone is a good thing in running and in life! You are challenging yourself, striving for something new and unknown and as long as you try you will have no regrets and you will inspire others to do the same. No matter the outcome it is an experience that will help you grow as a runner and a person!
Besides the physical benefits of doing hard workouts the mental benefits are huge! These workouts are key for race day because you have to push past the self-doubt and learn how to talk yourself up and keep yourself going. You learn what works for you to push through the pain and discomfort the last 5k of a half or full marathon or the last mile of a 5k. What motivates you? What mantras help you keep going? These hard scary workouts are not only physical but mental workouts. Without these runs, come race day we might not know what to do when the run gets hard, but with the right training we do and we have these workouts to thank.
Now, I always look forward to the workouts that scare me. It took me a while, but I now know those are the workouts where I grow most as a runner and a person. I love to push myself to new limits and constantly set new goals for myself. It won’t always be pretty, it won’t always go my way and sometimes I might push too hard, but it is all a journey. Working with a coach and being a coach has made me believe anything is possible if I put in the work and the effort, which I know I am always willing to do.
*Before attempting any of these workouts make sure you have a strong running base and have done some strength runs before. If you aren’t sure, consult a coach!
4-3-2-1 Long Run Workout
After x number of miles warm up — 4 miles over GMP (goal marathon pace), 800 meter recovery 3 miles at GMP 800 meter recovery, 2 miles under 800 meter recovery, 1 mile fast, x number of mile cool down
Alternating HMP/MP tempo miles in Long Run
After x number of miles to warm up, 1 mile at GMP, 1 mile at HMP, alternating back and forth for 4-8 miles, cool down
Alternating Fartlek between fast and GMP as recovery
Warm up 10-20 minutes, 3 minutes fast (between 5k-10k pace), 2 minute recovery (goal marathon pace), 2-5 times through depending on experience, cool down
Warm up 10-20 minutes, 2 minute recovery after each burst of speed – start with 5 minutes at 8/10 effort, 4 minutes at 8.5/10, 3 minutes at 9/10, 2 minutes at 9.5/10 and 1 minute fast 10/10 effort, cool down. Can’t wait to try this one!