Push Harder on Workouts: Micro-deals

Although I am still in a recovery phase, I am already thinking about the next build cycle. This was supposed to be my big KQ ITU double WC year. Of course that is pushed out 12 months, but now is the time to be smart, work on the weaknesses and get out in front of next year.

One of the things that comes with big goals is usually big efforts. Day in and day out always pushing to maintain quality is very difficult. It is hard to explain to others why getting up at 4:30am to suffer before work is worth it. Most of the time it is hard to explain to myself. I came up with a term to describe how I get through the hardest bits, the spots when all you want to do is quit. I call it ‘micro-deals’.

What is a micro-deal? Well it is the tiniest breakdown of an overall goal. It is the compromises we make on a very small level. Now I have two techniques I call upon frequently in my hardest workouts. One is counting and one is time based. Both are just simple things to preoccupy the mind when the pain is highest and the brain wants to shut it down.

My first go to is normally done when running although it works for any sport really. I use it more often when I am covering a workout going for time. Because my run cadence is pretty steady at around 174 steps a minute, and my pace is normally consistent during a run, I can count the number of steps on one leg and know I just ticked off a minute. Count to 87 twice, two minutes down. Simple. If you are running 8 minute pace, that is a quarter mile in the books. I always work around 2 minute counts when I am in the most trouble. Get through one cadence count on each leg and take stock from there. Keep repeating this or switch it up and go backwards, like a countdown timer. Trust me it just works.

My next move is similar but smaller and for when I am at the absolute edges of what I can do. Let’s say you are on the last set of intervals, sweaty, exhausted, and ready to quit. Before you do, set some smaller on-the-fly goals. If you have ten minutes left, maybe tell yourself, I am going to get two minutes done and then I can quit guilt free. If two minutes is too big, and sometimes it is, I will tell myself, I can do ANYTHING for 30 seconds. Once 30 seconds passes, do it again, and you are halfway done. Keep pushing, keep setting attainable goals inside of the workouts if you need to.

You will feel much better if you can finish the full intended workout of course, but sometimes we have off days. The one thing nobody but you can judge is effort. You know when you give it your all and when you don’t. It is easy to quit when it hurts, but that is the best time to push through, hone the mental toughness, and see what you are made of. Next time, you are on the verge of falling short, try one of these out, and see if you can wring just a bit more out of yourself.

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