QT: To Become a Better Runner, Develop Intensity Discipline

Become a Patron!

I think it’s safe to say that most of us want to be better runners in the future than we are today.

At least I do.

There are nearly an infinite number of ways to improve in the sport, and the last two weeks I addressed two of them: running more miles and being consistent year after year.

Today I’m wrapping up this little three-part series by digging into the final common area where many runners could see improvement: intensity discipline.

What is Intensity Discipline?

My definition of intensity discipline is pretty simple.

Easy runs need to be easy. Hard runs should be hard.

Now, admittedly, not every runner is as simple-minded as I am.

So we can broaden this out a little more to include pace discipline as well.

Is it the same thing?

Not quite, but it’s close.

And quite frankly, if your intensity discipline is poor your pace discipline probably isn’t any better.

So with a little luck, whichever way you come at this you’ll get to the same result.

How to Improve Your Intensity Discipline

Not surprisingly, I advise using a heart rate strap to monitor your intensity during an easy run.

To be clear, I’m not saying you need to go all in on heart rate training to become a better runner.

Keeping an eye on your heart rate during a run keeps you honest about how hard you are working.

There are countless examples of runners thinking they are running easy whereas an objective measure, like heart rate, tells a completely different story.

In my experience, it’s a lot harder to lie to myself about whether or not I’m running easily when I look at my heart rate data vs when I just reflect on my impressions of a run.

Can you use the talk test? Or just make sure to run at an “easy” pace?


Provided, of course, you’re disciplined enough to adhere to those other measures.

Today’s Episode is Sponsored By:

Use Code Diz20 to Save 20%

When It’s Time to Go Hard, Go Hard!

In general, more runners struggle with intensity discipline on their easy runs.

But it’s not uncommon for runners to slack off a bit on a hard run, either.

No, it’s not.

When you have a hard workout on your training schedule, it’s important to give it your best effort to get the most benefit from the workout.

That said, that doesn’t mean that every hard workout is an all-out effort.

As a general rule, the longer the hard segment of the workout the less intense your effort should be.

To put that another way, you’re going to push a lot harder for one-minute repeats than you would for one-mile repeats.

At least, you should.

So how do you make sure you push your hard workouts appropriately?

This is a lot trickier than just relying on heart rate, at least in my opinion.

And setting pace targets can be helpful but it’s not as simple as that for the same reason pace isn’t a great barometer of easy.

It’s ultimately up to you to push yourself on a hard workout.

Ideally, you are looking for an intensity level that you could push just a little longer than needed, maybe an extra 10 seconds or so.

If you could keep going at the same intensity for another 30+ seconds? Then you probably could have pushed just a little harder.

And if you blew up before finishing the hard interval? Then backing off, just a little bit, is what probably needed to be done.

It’s not easy to get sorted, to be sure.

But the closer you are to getting these efforts dialed in, the more growth you’re likely to see in your running.

Make It Obvious

The rule of thumb I give to the runners I coach about intensity for workouts is simple: make it obvious.

Meaning that when I look at their workout on Strava or whatever, I want to see a clear difference between the easy and hard parts of the workout.

If I can’t tell it a glance where we pushed, there’s a problem.

Maybe the hard wasn’t hard enough. Or the easy wasn’t easy enough.

A lot of times a bit of both.

Fix this, and you’ll get way more bang for your workout buck.

I Guarantee It

Put a Bow on It

You can be a better runner.

However you define it, I believe fully that it’s within your power to improve your running in the next 6-12 months.

There’s a pretty good chance that at least one of the areas we’ve discussed in the past few weeks will help you move forward.

Just remember one thing, improvement takes time.

Whether you’re pumping up the volume, focusing on consistency, or developing your intensity discipline, you won’t be a better runner overnight.

Shoot, you won’t be a better runner in a week or even a month.

Keep showing up. Keep doing the work.

And somewhere in the next 3-6 months, you’ll start to see the payoff.

You Can Do It

Intensity discipline is key to your growth as a runner. #runchat Share on X

How Do You Make Sure Your Runs are Completed at the Appropriate Level of Intensity?

Want to Support the Continued Growth & Production of the Show?

Check out the support page for ideas and suggestions of ways you can help me grow the show. And remember, not all support involves money. Some of the best ways you can show your support are 100% free.

Subscribe to the Show

Never miss another episode of the Diz Runs With podcast by subscribing to the show, and for my fellow Apple fans out there, it’s never been easier now that the podcast app is native on the new operating system. iPhone/iPod/iPad users click here. Android users click here. SoundCloud users click here.

Please Give Me Some Feedback!

Take the 6 question listener survey to help me shape the future of this podcast.

Register for a Free Race Training Plan

Every month, I’m giving away a FREE training plan for the race of your choice. For details/information, and to sign up, just click here.

Join The Tribe!

There’s always room for more members of the tribe! Both the Facebook group and the email group provide opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else. The Facebook group is still small, but it is a great way to connect with fellow runners and foster community amongst like-minded individuals. The email group is THE way to stay up to date about future guests on the show, as well as getting some other freebies and offers that aren’t available to anyone else. If you’ve got questions about either/both, just let me know!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *