Sunday, February 24

The hardest workout ever!

Okay, conceivably Friday’s workout wasn’t the hardest ever, I certainly remember being gradually stretched to an inch of my life/capability during a 4x2-mile session this time last year. And, you could argue that whenever you miss your goal times, in that very moment, any workout has immediately been transformed into a Herculean task. Still, two nights ago on a quiet track and under a setting sun, I suffered.

The workout was simple, 24x200 broken down as 4x(6x200) with decreasing recovery (75”/60”/45”/30”/15”) and 90” between sets. The effort, well that is where the difficulty started. I was supposed to run at mile pace but having not run a mile all out in along time, I wasn’t sure where to start. Still, I suppose if I was to complete a 1600m TT I’d finish between 4:00 and 5:10, probably closer to 5:09.

In the end, I decided to run the session “by feel” allowing myself the prerogative to make changes on the fly. I opened the first interval in what felt like a relaxed float, 30”, I didn’t run anything faster (avg., quickest, slowest):

Set 1: 32.5, 30.0, 35.0
Set 2: 35.2, 34.0, 36.0
Set 3: 34.7, 33.0, 37.0
Set 4: 34.4, 33.0, 36.0

It was during the clearly inadequate recovery between the 5th & 6th intervals that the understanding of starting too fast slowly sunk in, my breathing coming in insufficient gaps while the lactic acid pooled. Strangely though, during my moment of realization and pain and wry smirk formed in the corner of my face. This was fun, this was living.

A question then, what in your experience, is the most difficult running workout that you’ve had the pleasure to complete/attempt?

Wednesday: easy 1:06:01
Thursday: easy 45:01
Friday: 1:09:56 with 4x(6x200)


Mike said...

Hi Michael - great workout!!

As a 400m runner back in the day one of the toughest workouts I remember doing was about 8 reps of 300m @ very close to 400m race pace (about 400m pace + 1 second) w/ the "break" being a walk around the curve (100m) back to the starting line - perhaps a minute or so. What made it really tough, was that if I slacked on any of them (coming in over 40 seconds - target was 38) coach made me do another one.

A second one is very similar - 600m repeats @ 800m race pace w/ the break being the 200m walk back to the start. Number of reps was lower though, typically about 5.

Eric said...

Nice workout, Michael.

Back in college, I had the distinct pleasure and honor to complete a 25x400 workout on the track at the end of our XC season. Sixty seconds rest, 68-70 second reps. It was our 'peaking' workout.

Much like a marathon, the first fifteen swept by with little effort, and the last ten wrung us out and hung us out to dry. Good times...and I hope to never do it again!

Grellan said...

That some workout Michael. With words like "hardest" and "smile" describing the same workout you must like pain.

As a new runner my hardest workout to-date was 4 x 1 mile reps @ 10k pace with 2 min recoveries(last week). Sounds reasonable - but I ran them on tired legs and at 6 in the morning. Nothing like those of your other readers though.

Lawrence said...

That is a workout! I have nothing that rivals this.

Thus, I am slower than you ; )

Cliff said...


Most memorable (and hardest) run workout ever..

hills repeat. Hill at 6-8% grade for 500 m. Temperature was 35 degrees + humidity. Running at Z4 (HR 175+).

It was hot and tough. And yes, I have a grin on my face. A trucker drove by and mention that it was way too hot too run.

Anonymous said...


Trashman said...

I think the workout that I recall being the most painful, (Which I think counts as the hardest workout) was actually a really short ladder set. The total workout was as follows:

1 mile WM + Drills and Strides
Ladder: (800-400-400-400-800) w/ 400m jog in between everything
3 mile CD

Seems simple enough right? Coach told us that the 800's were at mile race pace, and the 400's at 800m race pace (At the time, that would be like 2:25's for the 800's and 61-62's for the quarters).

I don't know why, but that workout was freaking tough!! Ended up running these for splits:

800m - 2:22
400m - 61
400m - 62
400m - 60
800m - 2:23

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