This variation on kilometre repeats will challenge your ability to get uncomfortable
One way I like to look at workouts is as a way to learn to be uncomfortable. In the end, isn’t that what road racing is? How uncomfortable can you make yourself, and for how long? While this might seem daunting when you are trying to enjoy the process, I think it frames important aspects of my training and acknowledges that not every day can be easy.
While I definitely lean into my marathon specialty as much as possible, it’s important for me to keep developing in the shorter distances, like the 10k and half-marathon. I think it is crucial not to become stale, or a one-trick-pony, in my yearly training cycles.
One of my favourite styles of workouts is when my coach tells me it’s going to be as difficult as I want to make it. To me, this means it will involve active recovery and simulating race pace. The more difficult I want the workout to be, the faster I will run my active recovery. I have learned to love the constant changes in momentum, the motivation to squeeze the most out of the workout and the growing confidence that I can, as I progress through the sets.
I enjoy using distance rather than time for my workouts, since that is the metric we use in races (every half-marathon you run is going to be 21.1 km). Also, I try to incorporate as many workouts as I can on the type of surface I will experience on race day. If it is a road course, I will do the workout on asphalt, or if it’s a gravel course, I will do it on trails. Especially as the race distance gets longer, I have found it extremely beneficial to prepare my legs for what they will experience on race day. Lastly, for this workout I do my best not to stop at all during the whole session (no stopping for bathroom breaks, changing shoes or drills between the warmup, workout and cooldown). In most other workouts I would typically stop to do all those things, but getting used to the continuous time on the feet and the long duration of being “in the zone” is important for these longer races. It takes practice to get comfortable with the sheer amount of time you have to be locked in for the longer road races.
Ben Preisner is one of Canada’s top all-time marathoners. He was Canada’s top finisher in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics.