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2. Focus On Your Effort
Jones is a proponent of running timed intervals rather than covering a set distance, which means you’ll need a basic watch (or a coach timing you). “We’re not robots,” Jones says. “We can’t control the speed, pace or distance of the effort every time, so take the stress out of the workout. It doesn’t matter how far you get [in a set amount of time], as long as the effort is the same.”
Jones knows just as the terrain will change, so will the pace of an interval. “The effort to do a specific workout changes every week; the pace for 90 percent effort this week will be different from the pace for 90 percent effort next week,” he said. “So it really doesn’t matter how far you get as long as the effort is consistent.”
The volume of each workout varies throughout the year and even throughout each training cycle. In a typical two-week span, Jones’ athletes run five hard workouts — three one week, and two the next. The style of the workouts remains consistent throughout the year, with the only real variables being the length and intensity levels of each workout.
To keep his athletes in line with their effort levels, a Tuesday morning speed session may require longer intervals, such as 5-minute repeats. Some athletes will run much less than a full mile, while others may cover more ground. The next week, the group may do 3-minute repeats. The faster runners may run 1K, while slower athletes will run half a mile or less.
The second speed workout of the week, which usually falls on a Thursday or Friday for Jonesy’s crew, is usually comprised of a tempo run or shorter intervals, depending on the race distance an athlete is training for at the time. The third hard workout of the week, which only takes place every other week, calls for hill repeats on Saturday morning.
Jones believes in consistently working speed, stamina and strength year-round by using three different types of workouts, just as he did 30 years ago:
1. Interval Workouts (Example:
5 x 5:00 hard with 2:00 jog recovery between reps)
2. Tempo Runs (Example: 25 minutes at a steady effort)
3. Hill Repeats (Example: 12 x 90-second hill repeats with a rest interval of jogging back down the hill)
Each workout is based on time and effort, not distance — if you’re having a great day, you’ll run farther, but if you’re having a bad day, you’ll cover less distance. Thirty minutes of hard running is 30 minutes of hard running, whether you’re feeling great or feeling horrible. In this way, every workout can be a good workout as long as you’re putting in the right amount of effort.