Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Repeats? What the heck are Repeats?

Part of your training will probably be to do "repeats." These are when you run a relatively short distance - say, 800m, 1000m, etc. - several times, with some rest in between. In cross-country, this is usually done on a cross-country-ish course, as opposed to interval training on a running track. Because it is done on trails or similar terrain, the distances might not be exact.

This kind of workout is very challenging. You will get the most out of this workout if you can run each of the repeats at about the same time. However, new runners can almost never do this without lots of practice. You will usually start out too fast on the first one, and will struggle to match that first time. On the other hand, you don't want to go too easy on the first 3 of a 4x800 workout just so you can blast the final one - you won't get much benefit by doing that.

What I recommend to runners who are new to a repeats workout is to run the first one briskly, but staying relaxed. Since you're fresh, your time will probably be pretty good. Then, try to run the next-to-last one as hard as you can. This approach will probably result in repeats that are pretty close in time to one another. The ones after #1 will be relatively easy to match that first time because you just ran it. By the time you get to the next-to-last one, you will be pretty tired, so running it your hardest will not result in an overly fast time. Then, everyone can run one final repeat pretty hard, so hang in there on that last one.

Don't worry if you don't master this skill right away - it's like any other skill that takes practice. I always enjoy doing these kinds of workouts because, even though you shouldn't be racing, it seems like you are. Also, I just like to run fast.


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