The Hard/Cheese workout

No, I’m not suggesting you pack a snack of Gouda in your gym bag. Whilst that would be delicious, this is something else entirely..

(Note: this is intended for training for ultra runners, however, can certainly be adapted to other training modalities.)

Ever get that feeling that you aren’t doing enough mileage in preparation for a race?

A lot of people worry about this, they are really sold on the mantra of more is better when it comes to running volume, and get stuck in the mindset of ‘If I don’t run X amount of miles a week then I’ll never be ready to tackle ultramarathons’.

Now, mileage is certainly a key part of training, especially when we consider the importance of learning to run on tired legs, simulating the feeling we will have deep in a long race.

The issue is, a lot of us just don’t have the time to put in huge training weeks full of volume, we have jobs, families and other commitments that mean running volume can become minimized somewhat.

So, how can someone running lower mileage simulate that fatigue and muscle damage in the legs come the weekend long run?

Here’s where the Hard/Cheese comes in.

I’ll use a 2-hour long run as an example here.

Take the first quarter of the workout and go all out, really get after it, I’m talking heart pumping, sweat trickling, leg aching getting after it, think 5k pace.

This is the ‘Hard’ portion of the session and gets its name from the music I suggest you use to accompany it. Listen to whatever gets you fired up (for me, its a metal instrumentals playlist with some truly spine-tingling solos, suggestion – anything in an Eric Bugenhagen video.)

Once you have finished this first quarter of thrashing yourself, it’s time for the Cheese.

This is the larger, but much more relaxed portion of the session, for the remaining three quarters, put on a nice calm ‘cheesy’ playlist (for me, it’s classic rock ballads; suggestion: Meatloaf – ‘Two out of three ain’t bad’.).

This section should be at an easy pace, something much more similar to the sort of pace you would be doing late in a race, the first or ‘Hard’ portion should have been rough enough that your legs are pretty smoked now and you are feeling that fatigue setting in even at this slower pace.

So there we have it, a way to simulate some of the physical and mental fatigue of higher mileage training for those of us who are shorter on time.

Give this a go next long run and let me know how you go!

Note: The author is a lover of both cheese and trail running but recommends that you talk to a coach or doctor before embarking on any Cheese related fitness regimes.

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