How hard can we go? Where is the limit?

Instead of making some easy exercise yesterday, we‘ve decided to finish our interval series with some very hard intervals. With my race in the Netherlands in the focus I‘ve seen them as a last hard training. It was hard. Very hard.

Our course was an ascent of 250m length with an ascent of 25m. The inclination of the first half was approx. 4%, the second one 15%. So the real pain came up in the last third, trying to push the body up this never ending f… wall. Eight times „all-out“ which means an average pace of 4:30 and burning lungs. I‘ve never felt like yesterday. And already after the first 3 I felt like giving up. But our coach Marc Widmer knew the buttons to push ;-): “Hey, where do you want to race next year?”

Numbers 6, 7 and 8 made me feel like running into the coma. Stars in front of my eyes and my engine felt like the sandwich for lunch was burnt after the first two repeats.

The most inspiring and impressing input of Marc was: „Try to let go, try to relax and just remember: there are only a thirty seconds really hurting.“ It helped me to change the rules of this game. From that moment on, I was the boss running up this wall and not the wall pushing me off like a wild horse the cowboy. It really worked, when I focussed on easiness, relaxed in the upper body and worked effectively with my body – smiling in the face. The last interval was 1 second longer than the first run. And the first run was really fast.

After the lesson of yesterday and all the efforts and impressions of the last interval trainings I can understand why some professional athletes can run into the coma zone. There is a point which we can overcome and go further – but we have to let go. I am sure there is still more room for improvement … If you can do 8, you can also do 9 or 10? If you can run in 4:03 kilometers per minute, you can run under 4.

Look at this video. It’s the finish of Xena at the World Championships in 2011. She’s entered the coma zone just after crossing the finish line:

Yes, you‘re right. We can work with the intervals on the short and it‘s really different on the long one. But the short intervals are perfect to explore our limits – to find out how far we can go.

Combining the interval with a run at half-marathon or marathon pace will help to work with your lactate and getting the feeling of „a real race situation“.

To make a long story short: hard intervals can help you to find your limits and overpassing them. A situation all of us are facing during competition. Memorising these „training feelings“ will help you to go closer to your limits during competition.

P.S. Just done in run training, our swim coach pushed us to start the team training with 8x50m all out followed by 4 series of 5x100m (parts of them at race pace). The same idea, the same effect and the conclusion that the biggest part of my work is still waiting for me in the water. No news at all 😉

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