Train Hard

You can’t get it done with a sprint: life lessons from a fast 5k

Written by joelsnape


So recently, I’ve been re-addressing my 5k run time. My best ever is 21:19, and 22:00 is really the standard to stay below at all times, but I’d like to have a go at getting sub-20. Maybe I’ll make this, maybe I won’t. But training at it has reminded me of something that came up during the 2k row – something that’s even more pronounced over a slightly longer distance.


You can’t get it done with the sprint.


Unfortunately, I have a tendency to try.


It’s probably a pain thing. Sprinting as hard as possible for the last 250m of a row or the last 400m of a run is a fine way to ensure you end up ruined, and maybe convincing yourself that you went as hard as you could, but it won’t get the job done. What you really need to do is go at a slightly harder pace throughout, make things a bit more generally unpleasant and keep the average workrate higher. You can row four 1:45 500ms – you probably can’t row four 1:50s and a 1:30.


This, obviously, has parallels with the rest of your life.


Recently I’ve been doing a side-project at work. It’s essentially an insane amount of extra stuff to do, and even though I’m enjoying it, it requires more organisation and attention paid than anything I’ve done yet. Sometimes, my tendency with work is to leave certain things until the last minute, and try to get them done on the sprint. Because I’ve got a good ‘sprint’ work-gear, this works. But at some point, when you want to get more done, you need to go at a slightly harder pace throughout. You need to make things a bit more unpleasant, long-term. You need to keep the workrate higher.


So that’s what I’ve been doing: weeks and weeks of targetted, focused work, rather than one insane short effort. Will it work? I think it will.


Preparing for an exam? Writing a book? Training for something? Up the workrate. Don’t try to make it up on the sprint.

Decide what the most important thing to you is, right now. Decide what steps would make it happen slightly faster. Take those steps. Don’t worry about the sprint.

About the author


Editor and creator of Live Hard. Fighting enthusiast, steak lover and aficionado of all things self-improvement related.

1 Comment

  • Genius and right! I’m always using the sprint finish as a get out of jail card but proper focused planned prep always produces a better result I’d just not out two and two together – thanks

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.