Dr. Crowther’s prescription for relieving workout malaiseNovember 12, 2006
I’m not a running coach, but I occasionally play one in real life when Liz and a couple of her friends want my advice. And I do enjoy a good pontification opportunity every so often, which one of these friends recently provided when she emailed me to say that she was feeling less fit and less motivated than she’d prefer. I responded with the list of suggestions below. I think it’s a decent list — perhaps one that might be mistaken for a magazine article written by an actual coach.
* * * * *
1. Venue Nirvana. What locations are most enjoyable for workouts? The wooded trails in the arboretum? The climate-controlled indoor track? Go there and run there, even if it takes a bit of extra effort to get there.
2. Cross-training. This only works if you enjoy at least one aerobic sport other than running. But if so, treat yourself to a little variety. Hop onto a bike or into the pool or whatever and do a sustained effort (40-60 minutes?) with a few two-minute “pickups” thrown in.
3. Incentive Program. Useful for getting yourself to complete a tough workout that you’re dreading but think you really should do. Promise yourself a prize for completing the workout — an extra-large cookie at the bakery? 30 minutes on the couch with a new novel? — even if your times aren’t great.
4. The Tough But Ungraded Tempo Workout. Something like 3 x 8 minutes hard or 2 x 12 minutes hard, but without keeping track of the distance covered. You’ll be getting in a lot of quality but won’t be worrying about your pace. Give yourself a passing grade as long as you run hard for the full time.
5. Progress Is Good. This one is based on the assumption that you aren’t in great shape right now but are at least moving in the right direction. Look through your running log and find a workout that you did three or more weeks ago and think you can now do a bit faster. Do it, taking pride in any modest improvement you achieve even if the times aren’t great. Do it again three weeks later, aiming again to be just a bit faster than in the previous effort.
6. Cutdown Intervals. These can be relatively easy but confidence-boosting because you’re running fast by the end. Aim to cut down to a final interval that’s somewhat faster than you would normally do if you were doing a bunch of repeats of that interval. For example, if you’d do 6 x 800m in 2:50, instead try to run 3:04, 3:00, 2:56, 2:52, 2:48, 2:44. A variation of this is a “kicking workout” in which you run a 400 or 800 at 5K-10K race pace and then kick hard for 400 meters. The times for the overall intervals (800s or 1200s) won’t be all that fast, but you’ll get the nice sensation of running fast at the end of each one.
* * * * *
Do others have additional tips for combating a short-term training funk?