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Try Billat accelerations to increase your pain tolerance

Learn how to handle discomfort with this challenging interval workout

tired runner

Let’s face it: running is hard. If you want to get faster, you have to put in the work, and if you want to hit a PB on race day, you’re going to have to make it hurt at least a little. Building up pain tolerance is among one of the many goals of training, and being able to withstand the discomfort that often sets in during the final kilometres of a race is crucial to running well. This workout, known as Billat accelerations, will help you increase your pain tolerance, but be warned — it’s not going to be fun.

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The workout

This workout was created by French exercise physiologist Veronique Billat. The goal during each of the accelerations is to gradually increase your speed, starting from normal aerobic intensity until you reach an all-out sprint at the end. Finishing a long acceleration like this at such a high intensity hurts, but because you don’t reach that intensity until the end of each interval, the overall stress of the workout evens out. The majority of the workout is spent at a moderate intensity. The original version of Billat’s workout included 30 minutes of rest between accelerations, but since that isn’t practical, here’s a modified version that fits more easily into your daily schedule:

Warmup: 10 minutes easy jog (no rest after the warmup)

Workout: 11-minute acceleration; 10 minutes easy; 6-minute acceleration; 10 minutes easy; 3-minute acceleration

Cooldown: 10 minutes easy jog

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