This morning, I admit, I wanted to conduct a minor experiment with both my training partners and myself. I must admit, however, that my execution of this master plan was only partially successful. It turns out that coordinating it logistically was more challenging than I initially anticipated.
Lately, I've revisited some of Prof. Samuele Marcora's talks, and I aimed to test three statements of his that I'll paraphrase:
- The perception of effort isn't a direct measure of fatigue.
- Potential motivation is the maximum level of effort an individual is willing to exert to succeed in a task.
- By diminishing brain activity on "the control command", we can reduce perception of effort.
The structure of this workout, which I called THE EQUILIZER, was designed as follows:
- Complete 5 sets of 1.25km laps at 80-85% effort, with 3 minutes of standing rest in between.
- Staggered start time, based on our lap time plus 5 seconds. For instance, if my lap time was 5:05 and someone "ahead" of me had a time of 5:20, I would start running 20 seconds after them.
- Following the 3-minute rest, fill the staggered time difference with weighted squats, skipping, and other challenging exercises.
- Anyone running a lap 5 seconds slower than their best lap would accrue 5 additional squats for the entire group to perform at the end.
- Add high bpm music for the last 2 laps
- The number of reps was intentionally undisclosed to prevent people pacing themselves.
In my mind, at least, this session was designed to explore various elements presented by Marcora:
- Pushing hard to catch those who began before you and avoiding getting caught.
- Encouraging participants to run at their maximum to avoid contributing squats for the group.
- Throughout the week leading up to the session, I hyped it up without revealing the structure.
- Incorporating 5 seconds into the time difference with the person ahead.
- Inducing extra muscle fatigue for faster runners during the rest period.
Perception of effort:
- Using music during the final two laps to "distract" the mind and provide a performance cue as the music gradually reaches everyone.
Undoubtedly, the control group was small and the methodology was not scientific by any stretch of the imagination!
Nevertheless, it was an exciting field experiment - and a hell of a workout!
Most of us either improved our pace across the reps or maintained it.
No one "gave in" or slowed down, resilience prevailed maybe because of overall motivation or reluctance to contribute extra squats for others.
The additional fatigue induced by the added 5 seconds to the start time went largely unnoticed.
I can only speak for myself, but the music during the final two laps genuinely helped me get out of my head and run harder.
Ultimately it's just running - and play. And this morning we had a bit of both. All is good!