After months of her talking big, I finally pinned my friend down, dragged her out to the park, and worked out with her. One of the funny things about being a trainer is that people always say they want to workout with you, but then when you invite them, they back off. So naturally I strong arm them into it because I'm a good friend.
I wrote our workout (of course) and it was a tough one: a three mile run in Central Park, but every 3 minutes, we stopped and did 20 burpees, and every 10 minutes we did 40 squats. Also there was a 27 minute time cap (so 9 minutes to get through each mile sequence). So difficult. And we didn't finish.
As I sat on the ground happy and sweaty (as I always am after a hard workout), she looked over and scowled at me. "What is the point of doing an impossible workout?" she asked.
I have two kinds of programming I make--I make possible workouts and impossible workouts. While both are high intensity and include similar movements, the difference in programming boils down to one thing: I cannot physically do the impossible workouts. Yet.
Most of my workouts are possible. There's something very satisfying about going through the exercises and hitting all the pieces and doing all the work--dotting the I's and crossing the T's. That doesn't mean it isn't challenging--it just means that you finish everything you are supposed to. And that is important and good. But every once in a while, I like to write something insane because I know, even if I don't finish, I'm going to bust it trying. And to be honest, the workout I did with my friends is doable. Sometimes I make them even worse: adding tree climbs and sprints and whatever else pops into my head. The point is to make the training an adventure and see if I can rise to the occasion. I surprise myself the most often during this kind of training.
I see two kinds of value in the impossible workout. The first is that it is fun. I always feel like I'm about to do something wild and crazy even though it's just another day of working out. The second thing, and this is my favorite piece, is that just because something is currently impossible, doesn't mean that it always will be. Expecting to be excellent at the first attempt is not helpful. And if you are a master on day one, then you aren't pushing yourself. Impossible workouts are my way of making sure that I don't get too comfortable. And I write them in the hope that, when I return to them, I am stronger, faster, and closer to finishing. And if it takes me years to get there, that's fine. I plan on training my body as long as I have it, so I have time.
CENTRAL PARK RUNNING WORKOUT (27 minute time cap):
3 mile run
Every 3rd minute (3, 6, 9...) drop and do 20 burpees
Every 10th minute (10, 20) do 40 air squats (hips below parallel)
...not a great way to make friends, but still fun.