Rather than listening to Laura I use a different app that I programme with all the intervals & also the pace I want to run each at. The app then chivvies me along with 'faster', 'steady', 'slower' as required to meet my planned pace. To date, through pure luck I had managed to choose paces that I could do. In fact I always beat them and I loved the soft voice saying 'twelve seconds ahead' or whatever every couple of minutes. It really spurred me on - both to run faster when I could (flat, downhill) and not to worry about the overall time when she told me 'faster' as I puffed my way up a slight hill.
Today I got the paces wrong. Overconfident & buoyed up by my successful first 20 min run 2 days ago and the 4:49 & 4:43 paces for the 2x 8 minute runs 2 days before that I thought I would give myself a real challenge and set W6R1 up as 5 mins @ 4:20 / 8 mins @ 4:30 / 5 mins @ 4:20.
What a mistake. I knew within less than a minute of starting the first interval (and even before hearing 'faster') that I was struggling and the app confirmed that at the end of the interval - 8 seconds slow. After the 3 minute break (which did not seem overly long this time) I set off on the 8 minute section but did not feel good. The app lady encouraged me every minute or so to achieve what I had foolishly told her I planned to do - 'faster', 'faster' - but I just didn't seem to have it in me. I plodded on and the app lady politely told me my pace was 4:51 for the 8 minutes - over 30 seconds per km slower than I had planned.
I slouched on for the 3 minutes rest period thinking negative thoughts - if I find long runs boring but cannot actually improve my short run pace what is the point? - that sort of thing. Then I set off on the 3rd running interval but with zero motivation, looking down at my feet, mouth dry and basically ignoring the app lady - 'faster', 'faster'. There was no sprint finish and the app lady duly informed me that I was 41 seconds off my set pace for that final 5 minutes. 41 seconds!!! I let myself in the house, plonked myself down & saved the run with 'not good' as a comment. I felt really despondent.
Once I had recovered and showered I sat down to look at the stats for the run again. Hmmm, I had actually done 3.77km in the 18 mins of running (ie 4:46 pace average). Take out the last, appalling 5 minute run (when I had basically given up) and the average becomes 4:41 so not so bad after all. So why had I felt so despondent when I was out there? I think I can learn a few things from this;
1. More haste, less speed - if you try to go off too fast at the start you will definitely pay for it later (and possibly even immediately),
2. 'Slower' and 'twelve seconds ahead' are fantastically motivating and lead to even greater exertion while 'faster' and 'twelve seconds behind' actually have the opposite effect.
Or to put it another way, if you set goals you can realistically reach or exceed you are much more likely to actually reach or exceed them. Sadly it has taken me 53 years to learn this.