What is it about intervals that drives me crazy? I was thinking about this quite a bit yesterday.
Intervals are not my favorite. In fact, I despise them. Instead of pushing during these workouts, I tend to just check them off the workout list. Make my interval, take my rest, and go again. If I have to miss a workout, usually interval workouts are the easiest to cut out. What does this mean? I think I have finally come to realize that my lack of enthusiasm for intervals might be one of the biggest things holding me back from speed--what keeps me from bridging the gap from FOMOP (front-of-middle-of-pack) to FOP (front-of-pack). I tend to end up in a no-mans' land between the overall contenders and the somewhat competitive age-groupers.
I think I might have figured out my mental game/problem yesterday. For steady or tempo-effort workouts, you're always moving forward, moving toward the end of the workout at a measurable rate (minutes or miles). During intervals, you have to rest. You sit on the wall of the pool, you coast back down to the bottom of the hill, or you stand at the white line on the track huffing and puffing while counting seconds to your next effort. During that time, I don't feel like I'm getting closer to the end of the workout.
What I'm now trying to ingrain in my head that I am moving forward by checking the box next to another repeat. The end of the workout is only getting closer. The additional intervals are actually a countdown to finishing the workout and improving my fitness. If I quit, increase my rest, or back out of a workout, I'm not working on being a better athlete. I'm teaching myself to give up, mentally and physically. During the rest period, instead of getting down about how many repeats I have left, I should be mentally focusing on your next effort. Before workouts, I think about how do I get the most out of my intervals so that I improve during my next event. After all, I'm out there training. :Working out" and "exercising" are only side-notes. It is about getting better!
So, here are some resolutions I'll be trying to follow: take intervals seriously; look forward to knocking off seconds week-by-week, month-by-month, because eventually those seconds will add up to minutes during races; if I skip workouts, they will NOT be intervals (although with my current plan the "junk miles" are few and far between); track my splits for intervals in my training log (I am a numbers geek...), so that I can visually see improvement for a sense of positive feedback.
Yesterday was a good benchmark for this new-and-improved attitude. A breakthrough swim where I knocked off between 3 and 6(!!!!) seconds per 100 yards with 15" rest between (now if I could only have three or four additional breakthroughs with similar gains I would be a competitive swimmer! :) ). After being shocked by my first split, I focused on hitting it time and again. Between repeats, deep breaths and concentration. Push off hard, and nail it!
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