I was recently asked why the workouts I assign are so easy. While most runners who have been with me for some time know that not all workouts I assign are easy, there’s a very important reason why I prefer workouts to be easier than some others do.
If you follow social media workouts or Flotrack Workout Wednesdays or other such things, you will see plenty of what in college my teammates and I called “see God” or “run ’til you puke” workouts. Many people get the idea from these sources that the best runners are always doing these workouts. The truth is that they aren’t. These workouts make social media and Workouts Wednesdays for two primary purposes.
First, they are more “impressive” (for lack of a better word). They look tough, they look like you’re working very hard. They look “better” for the fans.
Second, they are used to intimidate the competition. Especially the Workout Wednesday workouts you see collegiate teams doing, teams use these to get inside the heads of their competitors. If they can do a blowout workout that has the competition thinking “I couldn’t do that” then maybe the competitors will have that workout in the back of their minds next time they meet.
Neither of these are a good idea of how you should be training or a fully accurate representation of what these teams even do throughout an entire season.
Sure, there are places for these workouts, especially for elite and collegiate athletes. However, they should be used very sparingly. Even elite and collegiate athletes are doing far more sustainable workouts (for their levels of fitness) most of the time.
As for us, under very rare circumstances, we should do a workout or two like these. Far more often, though, we’re better off finishing our workouts strong and feeling like we could handle more. Nudge your fitness up but remember one of the most important rules of long term development: consistency, consistency, consistency. Don’t bury yourself with your workouts. Make sure you can keep things going next week, next month, next season, next year. That’s how you get the biggest improvements over the long term.
Note: This is one of the weekly posts I shared with Club HillRunner.com members earlier this year. If you like it and would like to see more posts like this, you can see at least one per week for just $12/year (that’s less than 25¢ per post, not to mention the other benefits) by signing up here.