The other morning I was doing my leg swings and chatting with a few runners prior to a run. I mentioned I was apprehensive about an upcoming interval workout that was still five days away.
“I’m surprised you worry about workouts,” one of my run buddies said.
That got me thinking. I was honored that someone thought I was confident and worry-free about the hard days. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Speed days have never been my forte. Give me a 20 mile long run at aerobic pace and I look forward to it all week. But hard interval days? That’s a different ballgame. Hitting paces (especially shorter intervals) is no guarantee. I envy the runners who head out for mile repeats knowing they are going to nail their splits.
When I had a coach, I remember him programming intervals at paces I knew I couldn’t hit. I would lose sleep for two nights beforehand, knowing I would be slow on the watch. My mile pace is only seconds faster than my 5k pace, which is only seconds faster than my half pace. Coach Greg McMillan categorizes runners into two labels: Speedster and Endurance Monster. I am a poster child of the latter. The vast majority of runners are a combo.
Endurance runners often struggle with intervals. Endurance monsters are more likely to have anxiety before speed days, just as speedsters are more likely to be apprehensive about long runs and long tempos.
That said, show me a runner who has zero apprehension about certain workouts. I’m sure they are out there, but the majority of us have some inner demons.
The thing is, I like those inner demons. They turn hard workouts into a gritty and challenging adventure. We might not hit our splits. But we also might crush it. When that happens, it is a sense of satisfaction that is going to have us on cloud nine for the rest of the day. Our confidence goes through the roof, and the dreams of a successful race day ignite.
So I’ll lose a little sleep, and stay a little nervous the day (or week before) a key workout. The sport of running is all about unknown adventures, and taking chances is something we all do. Fingers crossed we slay the workout, but if not I know there will be others to crush down the road. Those demons can hang out and keep us modest. Who wants to be around a cocky runner anyway?