I'm back into my running training to prepare for a few runs in the summer and the annual Amsterdam Half Marathon. (It's the 5th anniversary of me and some friends going over so I'm hoping to follow up last year's PB with another this year.)
As part of this training, there are a bunch of different kinds of runs I'm doing. One of these is Interval runs.
(Definitely not me)
In simple terms, Interval runs are runs where you intersperse a steady pace with what's called threshold pace. Essentially, you run medium pace then speed up, medium pace, then speed up etc.
Last night I ran 6 x 800m threshold, and whilst I'm sitting here shifting my aching legs around, the point of the post isn't really about that. When I was running last night I was thinking about why running Intervals is essential to every Planner.
And this is why:
1) Intervals: Negative in the short term, positive in the long term
Intervals aren’t much fun and immediately after you don't feel fitter. In fact you feel sore and you aren't looking forward to the next one. But cumulatively, intervals make you much better runner longer term.
They improve your running in two ways: 1) They give you a greater pace which means you can run quicker, more comfortably; 2) They help you recover quicker.
Planning Learning: Those weeks when you're under the cosh and you're in and out of meetings, running around working late will help you in the longer term. You may not see it at the time, but they do, and you'll realise it next time you're under pressure. Stretching your limits is key to improvement.
2) Intervals: Great for pulling teams together
Running intervals is tough. You get through the first couple OK, but when you get onto the third and fourth, it's a real mental battle. If you're alone you need all your mental ability to help you. However, when you run intervals together with others is when teamwork really kicks in as you push each other, inspire each other and pull together as a real team. It's in these stressful, exhausting times you value the people around you most.
Planning Learning: The role of the Planner is to be the person who inspires and helps the others when the going gets tough. You may be tired, demotivated and lacking inspiration as much as them but pulling together is key to not only getting through this time, but making every second beneficial.
3) Intervals: Exhilirating and exhausting
Intervals are bloody tough and even now writing this I can feel that unmistakable beautiful dull ache in my legs you get after intervals. It’s a different kind of ache to that of plain distance. It somehow feels more acute, more sharp than the rounded ache of distance running.
But it’s also bloody exhilarating and as much as I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s intervals I’m also chomping at the bit to do them, because I know the buzz you get when you do them. And I get that exhilaration from being exhausted. Of pushing myself.
Planning Learning: When you’re going through a trough and you’re low on energy and not motivated, turn that into exhilaration. Try and take a step back and realise all the effort you’ve put into the work. It’s part of you. Of your life. Of your history. You’ve defined it, but it is helping define you. To coin a BBDO term of what it’s all about: The work the work the work.
4) Intervals: Pride before results
There’s no hiding when it comes to intervals. You have to give them 100% and nothing less. You can’t bluff an interval and you’re exposed when you’re running them.
But contrary to how this post may sound, I’m really not very good at running. I have bad knees, I’m overweight and I always, *always* been last out of my group of friends. But I really don’t care. I don’t care because I know I’ve given 100%.
Planning Learning: If you can look yourself and your team in the eyes and you know in your heart you’ve given 100%, that’s all you can do. Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. Remember that intervals help you recover quicker too so dust yourself off, get up and get on with it. There’s always another event, another pitch, another brand.