There is nothing wrong with them, per se, but for me Thursdays are times when it is, figuratively, time to buckle my chinstrap and get ready for a beat down.
In my current training schedule, Thursdays happen to be the days where I alternate between hill repeats and 800-meter intervals. So when I step on the track or start out at the base of the hill, there is a slight sense of dread. That first step is going to lead to about an hour’s worth or more of misery and suffering.
Last week it was intervals. But first, a little backstory.
I’m a slow runner, but I have goals to get faster. What I’m looking for is strength and speed. There are a lot of ways to get there. You can lift weights. Run sprints. Do box jumps. Or jump squats. You get the idea.
But for distance, that kind of stuff will only get you so far. Thus the prescription for hill repeats and 800-meter intervals. These two training techniques are the things that build strength — in your legs and in your cardiovascular system — as well as speed over the long haul.
But I have to say, it’s not a lot of fun. I run my intervals at a fast clip for me (7:30 pace), and my eventual goal is to get 10 of these intervals down before November’s Route 66 Marathon. Right now I’m at seven, and that seventh rep is brutal.
But that’s the thing. At this point, Week 6 of an 18-week training program, everything is getting tough. And it’s freakin’ hot out here. Even when it’s mild, we’re still talking high humidity and low- to mid-90s, with a few 100s thrown in there. Never mind that I’m also maintaining my full weight-training regimen at the same time. Most runners would slack off there, but I refuse. Anyway…
So there I was, after warming up, standing on the track. Seven reps of 800-meter intervals in front of me, knowing what’s coming. But also knowing what’s being done.
Every workout builds on the next, and I’m building toward a goal. No, goals. This training program isn’t just about a race a few months away. It’s about heart health. Weight control. Speed. Strength. Endurance. A high summit somewhere far away. And yes, it is about a marathon finish line.
So much can be accomplished week to week, day to day, mile by mile, and rep to rep. I’m already seeing the fruits of my labor. My endurance is up. My last Rocky Mountain climbs were pretty strong. I’ve dropped weight, become more defined, and believe it or not, I’m not losing any strength in the weight room. I’m gaining.
I’m not saying any of this to brag. Not at all. But for those of you out there sweating buckets, losing toenails, spending yourself completely and collapsing on your rest days, just know that the more you beat that iron in the forge, the stronger that hunk of metal is going to be. You’re not just suffering to suffer, or trying to prove something. You’re building something, something transformative. It’s going to suck while you’re doing it — training isn’t about playfully frolicking through the trees. It’s work, damn hard work. But it’s creating a stronger you, one with the physical toughness and mental mettle to do more.
So on your next workout, as you stare at the path in front of you with the time-worn dread that accompanies a long training schedule, try not to dwell on the suffering. Think what you might become when it’s done.
On Twitter @RMHigh7088