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Why some workouts are best left undone

There are no shortage of suggested workouts you should do. But what about the ones you shouldn’t?

Run crew

We all know that workouts are important. They develop speed, strength and endurance by forcing us to push beyond our current limits. These are the runs that make us better. But not every workout is ideal or even worth attempting. Just as doing too many workouts can become a problem (causing injury, burnout and over-training syndrome), there are some workouts that you just straight up shouldn’t do.

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Every workout should reflect your own training including your current fitness level and goals. A good workout is one that is both challenging yet entirely attainable. Just as the goal is to improve your physical fitness, a workout should also build confidence and act as motivation to continue to improve. If a workout seems impossible to complete or leaves you feeling completely discouraged, it’s probably not worth the physical or mental energy.

Workouts should be sensible, straightforward and should serve a specific purpose. The prescribed volume, including the duration and intensity, should be both reasonable and representative of where you are in your training. Most workouts should aim to have you running at or slightly faster than goal race pace and never for more distance than the race you’re running (i.e. you shouldn’t run 6K worth of intervals at 5K pace).

Not every workout will go precisely according to plan and that’s OK too. Tough lessons about poor pacing, overly aggressive intervals and excessive endurance attempts sink in quickly after one bad experience that need not be repeated. Some argue that it’s better to struggle through a workout, running slower than intended, and still get a modest fitness boost. Others advocate for abandoning a workout altogether when you’re not having a great day and save yourself for next time. The choice is ultimately yours and both have their own merits. Needless to say, you should not attempt a workout when sick or injured as the added stress will likely do more harm than good.

Always ask yourself: “What is the purpose of this run?” Every workout you do should have an obvious objective and should end with both a physical and mental training boost.