Looking here at the picture of this beautiful red oval reminds me of the inherent challenge associated with mastering its mysteries,its demands and its intricacies. None more so than when running the type of non glamorous grind out intervals that are so feared, yet so essential to a competitive running program.
It is not innate for humans to be naturally comfortable in continuous unrelenting mental and physical stressful situations ~at our most base instinct we thrive on comfortability and herein lies the message and the secret to success in the face of the aforementioned adversity. We have to find a way to be comfortable whilst being uncomfortable. Sounds like Double Dutch right? Perhaps so, but the alternative is resignation and failure. It is not easy, if it were easy more runners would be proficient at it and they are not and I am not exclusively referring to novice runners,not at all, this challenge relates just as much to the experienced or potential elite runner. These long intervals or at least the ability to handle them proficiently in many ways separates the pretender from the contender but how? How or what is it that lies at the heart of success in these long intervals? It is quite simply the ability to exclude distractions ~ the ability to remain in the moment~and this is achieved via the consistent, rhythmic, metronomic breathing cadence. I wrote comprehensively in my book Run Tall, Run Easy (now available as an e~book at Amazon and ITunes) about various breathing cadences one can employ, my favorite being the 3-1 cadence whereby I breathe a short sharp breath out via nose and mouth on my left foot strike with my left wrist on the upswing by my left hip at the point of left foot ground contact followed by one longer smoother single breath in also via nose and mouth whilst I strike on the next three steps, right,left right hence the title 3-1 cadence. This cadence works successfuly from a light jog all the way to racing at my outer limits during an 800 meter race and any intensity level in between. With this cadence I can hold off the negative thoughts that try their hardest to permeate my brain threatening to erode my concentration and mental fortitude ~ in essence the cadence allows me to have a protective buffer from these forces of destruction keeping me calm and free of mind to relax and stay in the moment which in turn helps me to break up the long intense interval or tempo into manageable bite size segments that by default keep stress and panic at bay usually related to thoughts that one is not going to be able to sustain the intensity for the duration of the workout.The next time you find yourself in a long intense interval remember stay in the moment, in the now by finding your cadence and in so doing finding success in the grind !