Training Outside the Zone

I had one of those glorious long runs last Friday morning that could have gone on forever…maybe why I didn’t get to a Friday Fitness News round-up. Anyway, it was an awesome run and I didn’t want to stop.

I look something like this when I'm in the zone, but without makeup. Happy, bouncy, relaxed Abby.

I look something like this when I’m in the zone, but without makeup. Happy, bouncy, relaxed Abby.
(Image courtesy of MK Photography)

I was totally in the zone. My comfort zone. Running my pace. Running my course. Running my way. And then today I just about died pushing through my hill workout. It was the opposite of Friday in every way.

Two different workouts. Two different days. Because they can’t all feel easy. They can’t all feel effortless. They can’t all be the run that you want to go on forever. That’s not how Personal Records are made.

No, sir. PRs are made outside of the zone.

On the track in the pace group juuuuuuust a little faster than the one you’re used to.

In the speed workout that’s tempting your puke threshold.

On the road with the hills you hate.

Big, big, bigbig hill. You could walk it or you could run it. It's up to you.

Big, big, bigbig hill. You could walk it or you could run it. It’s up to you.

In the gym with a heavier weight than last week.

At the race you’re scared to run.

God, I hate 5Ks. But, here I am at the finish line, clearly not dead. Guess I'll have to do another one.

God, I hate 5Ks. But, here I am at the finish line, clearly not dead. Guess I’ll have to do another one even though I hate them with a fiery passion from Hell.

If you consistently go out and run the same pace, the same distance, the same road, you will be the same runner with the same times.

Long runs should be comfortable. They should feel pretty good. They should remind you of all the reasons you love to run and full of beautiful scenery.

Time to stop and take a picture during a long run? Sure. Why not?

Time to stop and take a picture of the budding Central Park trees during a long run? Sure. Why not?

But your weekly workouts, the majority of your runs–those should be hard. Like, H.A.R.D.

They should challenge you. You should push every single interval, every single hill, every single time. That’s where you change. That’s where you get stronger, faster, tougher.

Ever tried running on the track with Birdie? Yeah, this is approximately what it feels like chasing her wings around that oval.

Ever tried running on the track with Birdie? Yeah, this is approximately what it feels like chasing her wings around that oval. But I do it. Cuz I wanna be fast.

That’s where your PR is made, well outside of your zone.

Get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. No one ever said it was going to be easy.

How do you get outside the zone and push yourself: run with a faster group, change up your terrain, train against the clock, hire a coach to give you workouts? Do you run the same route/pace/distance every day? Do you go to a group circuit training class to lift? What’s your secret?! Share it here.

Now go out and run.

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9 thoughts on “Training Outside the Zone

  1. i recently hired a coach to help me invest more hard work and variety into my runs. it’s so easy to slip into a natural “jog” instead of going out for a real “run.” having a coach and pace chart to hold me accountable helps!

  2. Can I ask how much mileage you are doing for your hill workouts? I have been running about 20K for my long run every week, but only about 5K for my hill runs. I wonder if I should be doing more…?

  3. Pingback: Applying the Principle of Specificity | davetriing

  4. Pingback: RAD Reads and Weekly Review: August 4, 2013 | Running At Disney

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