Day #43: Your Hardest Workout!


Do you remember the hardest workout you ever completed? How long ago was it? Who designed the workout? Was it effective? Isn’t it time you re-crafted that most awesome workout for your training regimen of today and got out there and completed it again?! Now can be the best running of your life. Let’s get to it!

Here are my answers to the questions I posed above. Will you share yours in the comments section of this post?

The hardest workout I ever completed was 12 x 1Mile at roughly 5:00 pace with a 200 meter rest. Sound bad? Yeah – it was … not heaven:)

A good friend of mine, Cliff, who was actually the one who introduced me to my wife, was out there with me. He watched and timed the first half of the workout and then ran the last 6 Mile repeats with me. He was encouraging, laughing and a huge help overall.

This workout began with 1.5 Mile warm-up and warm-down (kind of silly after all of that hard running… I could hardly limp at the end.) So the total distance run, with all of the rests was about 16.5 Miles…. I was training for marathons – specifically for the 1998 Philadelphia Marathon. I was in the best shape of my life. The workout took me nearly 3 weeks to recover from :), and guess who designed it? Yeah – me. I was inspired by the workouts of some of the great runners of the past and present – and the 10 x 1 Mile was probably the real inspiration for this particular workout.

In the end, I did PR at Philadelphia that year with a 3rd place 2:25. However, the workout was probably ill-conceived. It was more of a marathon challenge itself than particularly beneficial. But that is how much of my mostly self-coached training was in those days: lots of hard work, with the philosophy that “hard work pays off.” I have since matured in my thinking and realize that one must have faith in the training effect: the idea that the rest is where the adaptation to greater stress actually takes hold; the notion that you do not have to do all of the manipulation of your fitness yourself, but rather you must trust something outside of and greater than yourself. In short, you must aim to train smart. More of all this later…..

There you have it – my most difficult workout — among MANY difficult workouts:) Were I to adapt this workout to today, this is what I might do: turn it into a fartlek workout — “speedplay.” I would do 10 interval bursts of increasing and then decreasing times. Say, start at 1 minute on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off — up to 5 (capping the rests at 2 or 3 minutes) and then back down. Such a workout would be appropriate for where I am today, would keep things mentally ‘light and fresh,’ and would push my anaerobic side —- all in the context of a mid-length run (maybe 12 miles.)

So, what was your most difficult workout? Was it effective? How might you adapt a similar training effort into your current training plan? I’d love to hear from you.

All the best — and remember to train smarter,

~Coach Reed

image note: Emil Zatopek (above) is regarded as perhaps the hardest trainer in running history.

image credit: