It’s no secret that I’m a lover of easy runs. There’s no time pressure. I can walk a bit if I want. I can take a photo. I can pop into Facebook and have a chat for a bit if I want. It’s a pressure free run. Even more than easy runs, I love long runs. That’s what I live for. Although the long training runs for a marathon certainly take it out of me, I look forward to it all week. And when I’m done, I often feel like I could go for a bit longer, because I just love long distance.
There are other runs that I do because they benefit my long running but I’m not necessarily keen. I accept that they are a necessary evil.
Like Intervals. And Tempo.
It’s also probably the case that I like those two types of runs even less because where I live is quite hilly and there is nothing overly enjoyable about running intervals uphill.
But what I have found is that if you get a bit creative you can find a running workout with the same benefit that you don’t hate with the fire of a thousand suns.
Plenty of people love their tempo runs, but for me I find them a bit of a struggle because there’s no real relief point. It’s just maintaining the same reasonably hard pace for whatever the distance is and mentally I find them to be a bit of a struggle. But I have found a couple of things that help me with this:
Fartlek – Fartlek can give you the same benefits of Tempo without actually doing Tempo. Now traditionally Fartlek is an unstructured mix of speed, steady and easy running but some of us are just too structured for that kind of thing. So here are the main two Fartlek-inspired runs that I do.
5:2 – 6 repats of 5:00 hard running by 2:00 steady running
Pyramid – 3:00, 4:00, 6:00, 8:00, 6:00, 4:00, 3:00 hard running with 1:00 of recovery running in between.
Also not my favourite. Particularly long intervals. Long intervals are hard to pace for, especially once you throw hills into the mix. My solution to this has been a couple of things
Run to heart rate – instead of picking a pace and saying this is the pace I have to do, I do it to heart rate zone so that the effort is consistent, even if I can’t manage a consistent pace up and down hills.
Shorter intervals – Sure I could kill myself on long intervals, but long intervals aren’t going to help me if I don’t do them. So I mix it up with plenty of shorter intervals. At the moment my favourite is the 400m progression run. Which is 5 x 400m sprint, 400m, steady, 400m fast, 400m recovery. Now that is fun!
The moral of the story? There’s usually a way to make what you do not like to do, fun!