Many training programs repeat the same workouts week after week, I have experienced them and thrived at times. The same workout done weekly makes it easy for fitness to be evaluated but it doesn’t take into account the one major variable that all runners have in common that being life itself.

Life takes me in different directions every week. To compare my performance this week to last week would only make sense if every other life event was the same. Of course this is impossible. Some days I am tired, others I am fresh and alive, some days a anxious, others I am relaxed. All these mood and energy states have an effect on performance. I am also a competitive fellow and would deliberate why the average speed of this week’s workout is 2 seconds per km slower than last week!

So while training is designed to create a progression from week to week, month to month the subtle changes to the me and my environment mean that the changes are not always shown in the stopwatch readout at the end of the workout.

I learned from Nic Bideau about a decade ago that some of the best coaches keep their athletes from comparing one workout to another. These coaches change things week to week so the athlete has no reference point of how they should be performing in a given workout. This means they relax and run to form rather than reaching or striving.

Today I repeated a workout that I performed earlier in this marathon preparation. It was 10 x 800m on the track. Fun session, particularly with company and a still winter’s morning. I like 10x800m as a way to get the body moving quickly and it’s an ideal time for me to do it, however, I did not want to compare myself to closely with my workout 6 weeks ago.

It’s said that a little change can go a long way and as far as interval sessions go the runner can change it up by;

–          change the pace

–          alter the recovery (length, activity level)

–          change the number of reps or divide them into sets.

My big change was to decrease the recovery by 15 seconds and to maintain a jog in between the reps. It was subtle but enough to create a much different workout. It became more ’huff and puff’ and less speedy and snappy with me walking around casually between each effort. Today it was constant movement, giving myself just enough time before setting out again for another effort. I was well pleased with my run and have taken a lot of confidence from it.

Interestingly the set of 10 performances I put together today would not stack up anywhere near the performances of 6 weeks ago. Thankfully that was never the aim even though I had “been there before!”