Tag Archives: #runlikeachampion

Effort and intensity workouts, it’s a fine line.

30 Dec

Today blog education is inspired by the words of Alan Culpepper from his book “Run like a Champion”

Alan has a chapter about effort and intensity; the line I’ll take from the book then elaborate in my own theory about this which will agree with what Alan writes also.

“There may be a fine line between a hard effort and an intense effort, but they are distinctly different concepts in running. A hard effort typically describes the physical output of a workout, or run, while an intense effort relates to the mental or psychological approach.”

 

I really like that because endurance sports, running, swimming, cycling all of it are so much about the mental toughness of an athlete and how an athlete can handle and adapt to things with mental strength. But as athletes we have those hard effort workouts the physical kind that has us breathless and about to puke sometimes.  I would say most people look for or relate to hard efforts more than intense efforts because it’s easy for them to say that was a tough workout that was hard and kicked my butt. A hard effort workout leaves your body exhausted, sore, and grasping for a rest day.

But an intense workout I think is the money workout, when an athlete can tell the difference and understand they are in an intense workout one that challenges them mentally; to me these are the break through workouts! We all have those off days, those days we struggle and the mental game starts talking to us and trying to derail us. But as an athlete when we recognize this intense effort, this mentally tough workout and we power through we dig deep and we get mentally tough, stay positive and succeed the outcome from that can be huge in our growing and moving on to chasing those goals we set for ourselves.

Crossing the line from “hard” effort to “intense” effort is all in your mental approach all in how you think about the workout and attack the workout. To have an intense workout one that will prepare you for race day, you have to let go a little and be very positive! I coach athletes that are far away, but also athletes that are local near me and we train as a group often. The group and team aspect of doing your workouts with training partners can quickly take your hard effort to an intense effort and make the run painful. The workout it’s self could be a challenging tough physical one, but then you mix in that little bit of competitiveness of having a training partner with you and it can become intense and mentally taxing also. By nature we want to keep up or beat our training partners and this type of competition within a training environment has positive and negative effects. I think a person needs to be very strong mentally and very positive upbeat person that can handle adversity, can be patient, and if they are humbled will be OK with that.

Example: Let’s say your workout is a mid distance hard tempo run, you’re coach has prescribed certain paces for you to hit but you are with your training partner who might be similar pace as you but for whatever reason they are feeling really good and fit that day and turn the workout into a harder effort a pseudo race maybe. This can even happen if you are alone and set your watch to beep and tell you if you are getting too slow and not hitting your prescribed paces. What happens now is this workout turns into “intense” because mentally you have to get tough, you have to overcome the physical feeling you have to stay pace with your training partner or what the watch is telling you. (The caution for any runner doing a run or workout is not too add so much intensity that you wind up running harder than what is called for.”  As adding too much intensity can physically deplete you and kick your butt so bad that you struggle the next few days to recover from that workout and then it makes your other workouts suffer. So be cautious when entering into this zone.

 

As a coach, as an athlete I do appreciate the intense workouts that make us work mentally. Racing is hard, racing pushes us mentally just as much or more than it does physically. So often people are scared, they are scared to really go for it! They have fear of bonking, or whatever it is that scares them. When things get tough its human nature for us to shut down, slow down and stop fighting because physically it’s so hard and hurts. This is where having some good “intense” workouts that make us mentally stronger and build confidence within us!

And having confidence and belief within you is king!! I see athletes all the time that have loads of physical talent but they are so mentally weak, so crazy in their head that it derails them and leads them to more failure than success. They can easily shut down when things get tough, I also see where being in the group training element can affect them because their training partner is killing it they can’t keep pace so they shut down and come up with an excuse to quit or run slow. These people need more intense workouts and mental strength work to overcome these things and stay positive and keep pushing and moving and embracing the pain.

Then you see some athletes that are just so strong mentally and when surges happen on a training run, or in a race they can dig deep and withstand the pain that sets in physically, they can overcome the mental demons that make them want to back off and quit because physically it’s so hard. These athletes can find the balance in training between a hard effort and an intense one. They embrace intense efforts and use them to grow and become stronger. But these types of athletes also have to be cautious and not do this too often and then physically beat themselves up and leave them hurt or sore all the time.

So as you see it is just such a fine line between the two as Alan states in his book and as an athlete you need to learn to tell the two apart and embrace both.

One last line from Alan’s book that I agree 100% with!

“Perceived effort is becoming a lost art and must be practiced if there is any hope of running at your best on race day.”  In today’s world we have so much technology, so much data we can collect and so many runners get obsessed with this and focused on this data and technology and so often they need to just let go and perform on perceived effort based on what the day, the course gives them. This approach will also help keep the athlete in a more positive state of mind and in many ways can let them grow and become faster/stronger because they might get into that “intense” workout more and push their limits and not hold back trying to focus on a certain pace. So use the technology, its fun to see the data post workout, but during the workout practice some perceived effort levels and see what happens.

 

Happy Training, Happy Racing, train that mind and get mentally tough and positive to withstand any adversity or negative/painful things tossed your way!

 

Cheers

Coach MB

www.gottahavehearttraining.com