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Rite of Passage – Ladies Room

Ultrarunning High: Hypoxico Altitude Training: Part 2

May 20, 2012 Comments (4) inspiration, Musings, Training

Your Worst Workouts Are Your Best

Picture of Mark Kreuzer resting after a workout


Seriously!  Follow me on this.

Between running partners and coaching, I’ve gotten to know more than 100 athletes training for 5k’s to Ultra Marathons.  Anecdotally, I would say 80% or more view a poor workout negatively and most seem to extrapolate that toward future outcomes.  It ruins their day and stresses them out because they think they’re failing.

It is just the opposite my friends.  A really poor, ugly, difficult workout is fantastic and should be celebrated!

Look at it from this perspective:

1.  Assuming you completed the run… you did the mileage.    +1

2.  You felt terrible but you continued… you didn’t give up mentally.   +1

3.  You probably worked extra hard at that workout vs pervious similar ones.  That extra effort will equate to bigger gains.   +1

See, there are no downsides to a poor training day… it’s a Win Win Win.

NOW,  this assumes you didn’t quit.  Also, it assumes you’re not suffering continued long-term fatigue.

Personally, I frame tough (I refuse to call them bad or poor) workouts in the following ways:

1.  I REFUSE to extrapolate any meaning out of a tough day other than… great workout.  Effort, Work, Outstanding…  Mark doesn’t get to be the victim or think my running sucks or I’m not ready for such and such a race kind of crap.

2.  I give thanks to my tough days… they make me work harder and are making me stronger.  In 10 days (the adaption period) I’ll be reaping the rewards.

I’m not here burying my head in the sand.  Actually, I objectively look at my performance to see what factors made the workout difficult.  I DO NOT judge myself.  I look for the potential factors, make notes, adjust and move on.

My goal is to avoid wasting my mental energy and brain time on fear, self-pity, self-loathing or whatever else my mind & ego would have me wallow in.  I make no space for them in my life.

Guess what, it works.  It’s a lot of self-parenting at first but after a period of time it becomes a firmly implanted state of mind.  A state of mind that has me high-fiving at the end of every run… especially the tough ones!!

4 Responses to Your Worst Workouts Are Your Best

  1. leeapeea says:

    Thanks for the reminder. Fun workouts can be emotionally rewarding, but tough workouts don’t need to be emotionally defeating.

  2. Amy King says:

    I really like this! I have often thought of the way I talk to myself during a workout and ESPECIALLY a tough workout as similar to the way I talk to any one of my four children. I also call it self-parenting. I allow myself some wiggle room often, i.e. I tell myself that I have the option of quitting once I’ve run for at least 5 more minutes or another qtr mile (or whatever it might be). Never one time have I actually quit. For me, the key is the choice. It’s the same in parenting IMO. When I (or one of my children) am given the freedom of choice and left to my own conscious, I will choose to move forward and not give up. I will also say that in the beginning, I didn’t know this about myself and was taking a risk. In those moments of wanting to stop or quit, I genuinely give myself the option of stopping BUT I make myself wait (qtr mile, 3 min, to the next tree, whatever applies) and have patience. It’s during that waiting time that I make my decision. I’ve found out that I don’t quit, even when I have moments of hating everything and wanting to stop. I don’t quit and I don’t give up. The end. LOVE this article!!!

  3. mkreuzer says:

    So kool Amy. Love your way of thinking. I’ve come to similar conclusions… moving forward in Ultras (as in life) is about choice. I’ve chosen (made) two agreements related to my Ultras. 1. I will NEVER DNF another race (with truly life threatening exceptions). 2. Your 5 minute rule is a 2 hour rule for me. I’ve found everything changes about every 2 hours…. be patient… right? 🙂
    For me, the effects have been nothing short of being emotionally born again. I’m out there working hard and loving every minute because my agreements allow for nothing else. So I guess my choice is no choice 🙂

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