Do we set barriers in our minds that prevent us from achieving our goals? I don't know. It is something that I feel personally like I struggle to get my hands around.
But first let me back up and explain what I mean.
Say for example that you are doing 10 x 400 and say you want to run these quarters in 90 seconds because either that's what you decided or what your coach told you that you needed to do. Then, you go to the track and run those quarters in roughly 90 seconds. You walked feeling probably one of the following ways: the workout was just right, the workout was too slow, or the workout was too fast. You feel one of these ways because 90 seconds was the barrier that you were working against.
Now, turn the thought process around. Instead of saying 10 x 400 in 90 seconds or even say 10 quarters, what if you went to the track and run just quarters. Yeah, the thought of no structure makes many runners nervous.
Without knowing the quantity and/or the quality of the workout, runners can get into trouble because they don't know how to judge their effort.
But isn't this why we race and in a race, yeah, you do know the distance and yeah, you can throttle the effort but if you want to beat your buddy, then the effort has to be that that gets set aside. You have to do what is necessary to stay close enough so you at least have a shot at passing him or her in the last mile.
I wonder if we ran more workouts without setting expectations i.e. barriers would this better prepare us for racing without barriers.
Granted, not everyone can work under these conditions. The less structure in the workout the more the duration and effort is left up to the athlete to determine and only the athlete knows that he or her is pushing into the zone that has the potential to make them better.
Why do I struggle with it? Well, if you look at my OBX training plan, you would see plenty of workouts on the schedule. But what you don't see is intensity. I wish could say that I am going to run this tempo at this distance in this time. Life for me just doesn't work that way. Therefore, I opt for saying I am going to run this workout. Then, I go by feel. If I am running solo, I am probably not getting the top in end of the workout. On the other hand, if say I am running with several other guys, I am probably getting into the right range. Part of this is just who I am. I am only going to hurt so much pushing solo. I'll probably hurt a little more running in a group just because of the peer pressure. But in race, I try to set it all aside and push to the limit. Otherwise, I personally feel like I am just wasting my time.
What you do with your training schedule is up to you. But thinking outside the box just might be the trick to getting that PR and passing that buddy near the end of race.
Just a little food for thought,
The Cool Down Runner