Unless I have someone breathing down my neck, screaming instructions, I find intervals hard. I’m sure I’m not alone. They hurt! And when you know that, it’s difficult to inflict that pain on yourself.
Alas, you won’t get fast without ever running fast, these nasty sessions are an essential part of training. So to ease the pain (and to avoid tricky running maths), I try different methods of measuring my interval times and distances to make them a little more ‘fun’.
I’m well practiced in musical hills: Put your playlist on shuffle and run to the beat as you tackle those hill reps.
I’ve experimented with the slightly-stalkish method of chasing faster strangers until they look like they may call the police or lamp me one.
I know the local spots with the most lampposts, that signal the start or the stop of my sprints.
I’m well versed in the distance between stops on the 243 route (and when the traffic’s busier so I have a chance of beating the bus).
These little games make my interval sessions more playful, more bearable. By focusing on a separate task, like matching my cadence to the beat of my favourite track or beating a bus to the next stop, I’m distracted by the pain of pushing myself.
To keep these evil little sessions feeling less miserable, I need to introduce new games to trick my brain into thinking I’m having fun. If I don’t change the method it might catch on to what’s happening. So let me introduce a seasonal version – Firework Ooh-Arghs.
The game is simple. Go out on the 5th November when it’s nice and dark, and the promise of fireworks is strong, then follow these three easy steps…
- Run at a gentle pace until you hear your first crack of explosives.
- Time for the Argh – Run as hard as you can, until you hear the next explosion.
- Recover with an Ooh, as you run at a gentle pace and enjoy the fireworks.
Repeat these steps until there are no more fireworks or you’ve collapsed face-first onto a heap of Autumn leaves.