Interval Savers - What's Yours?

this was a gem of a movie

for me it’s usually doing the whole body check, from head to toe, big emphasis on the breathing, trying to calm it, and if i managed to bring my HR by a few beats, it tells myself that i still have plenty left in the tank

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When I want to skip a workout or cut an interval short, I tell myself “the people you are going to beat at x event are quitting right now, you are not!”. Let the slow people skip their workouts and quit early…


Good Topic:
I’m glad others have struggles / techniques.

I use the phrase - I can and I will. I listen to familiar rock music and try to zone out.
Stay mindful and focus only on the current interval not the entire workout. Tell myself this is only a moment in time. In an hour I’m eating or laying on the couch. This is just one moment time and when it’s over the pain will be forgotten.
I don’t know why but the last interval of 3 or 4 is easier because it’s the last. The second to last is the hardest.
I visualize climbing a mountain pass where you have no choice but to proceed.
I try and see how far I can get into the interval before it feels painful. (first 5 minutes of 20).
Then I try and get to half-way. Once I’m down to 5 minutes I can hang on. I won’t quit.
I click into harder gear for 1-2 minutes then easier and high cadence.
I scream if necessary. Focus on breathing to see if my HR drops 1-2 beats.
If all else fails I drop the power for 20 seconds and then hit it again.
I will have to try the water squirt in the face. Anything to change up the mental grunt.

I focus on a nice high cadence. When it starts to drop I focus on bringing it up. I also have found success standing up if I am at the point of giving up.

Is that @Pete?

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When it gets really painful I usually will count pedal strokes. Usually count the down stroke on the left side and get to 30. Then I will do the right side, downstrokes only, and count to 30. Then I will count the left downstroke and the right downstroke and shoot for 60. After that sequence I look and see how much time is left. Usually that’s enough distraction to get to the end. If not, I will do it all over again. I’m usually good for this 3 times. If it takes more than 3 counting sessions I likely need a backpedal or a day off but 99/100 this is all it takes for me.

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I can see how this thread may not quite convince anyone that we’re having fun training in the basement.


No, that’s @chad back when he was doing Crossfit.


I used to climb mountains years ago, I discovered very early on that if I focused on the top, my progress seemed insignificant and the goal felt too far away. I learned to look ahead to a point that was only 50-100 yards away and tell myself, "the summit might be too far, but surely you can make it to that rock over there. I’d get to that rock and pick another goal, again only 50-100 yards away, rinse and repeat. I’d keep doing this over and over until the summit was in reach. I’ve applied these principles to many areas of my life beyond physical challenges with great success.

When riding a bike indoors, I do Trainerroad and Zwift simultaneously. When an interval feels like it is getting too hard, it gives me the opportunity to pick a point a short distance ahead on the Zwift screen and focus on just getting to that point. I find that picking a point up the road works far better for me than just trying to go another x number of seconds, as it takes my mind off of the clock altogether.

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^THIS. For the longer intervals, I’ll break them down into 1/3s or 1/4s and tackle each section individually.
I’ll also swap positions on the bike every minute to keep me focused.

Indoors I’m a cadence counter.

Outdoors I pick the next milestone up the road. Corner, tree, mailbox, dead squirrel… doing hill repeats with friends is always good motivation. You need a lot of friends though as most wont return…

I have a couple.

  1. I really like breaking intervals into sections. During a 5 minute V02 interval I will do the first 2:30 at 100rpm, then I get to change up a gear and go until 3:30 at 90 rpm. Then I get to do 30s out of the saddle, then I just have a minute left. Pretty much do variations of that for every V02 interval.

  2. Another is positive mental framing of a workout. So last night I had 7x 5min intervals. I felt awful at the start but I did the first one. Then I tell myself I will do 4 of them at least, if I do 4 intervals that will be a very solid session. Then I finish the fourth and you recover, and give the fifth, then the sixth and then the seventh a go.

  3. Positive self talk helps me so much, it feels ridiculous when you first try it to be saying “you are doing great” or “you got this” to yourself as you pedal. But once you build associations between these phrases and good outcomes in races and sessions it can become a really powerful tool to get through a session. I always give myself pat on the back anytime I get through a hard session or interval, and store that in the bank to remember when I am suffering next time.

I find that the second last interval is the toughest and I use this strategy:

  1. erg mode always and maintain minimum 116 rpm cadence - easier on the legs, though harder on the lungs and heart which I can handle.
  2. Have Phil Collin’s In the Air Tonight on tap in my spotify list. Turn it on full blast just before the start of the semi-last painful interval and I’ll crush it.

I always use the local race for my negotiations meaning a fast lap is a minute and I say to myself okay it is only X amount of laps. If it gets really really hard I can push through thinking I would never let myself get dropped with 2-3 laps to go lol.

Just remember …

Your body hears whatever your mind thinks


I usually talk to myself before the interval. “This is going to hurt, but if I don’t do this NOW, RIGHT NOW, I will get dropped in a couple of weeks. That will hurt more”


I try* to welcome the struggle and pain.

I talk to it, say hello and welcome it along for the ride, then tell myself this is the reason I’m in the garage at 05:30. I ask it to hang around at it’ll make me stronger.

  • Note: 90% of the time I can do this, the other 10% it’s not my day and I turn down the intesnity by 5%


Although a part of my brain is telling the rest about the comfort of the bed and how we could all go back to it and sleep a bit more. Fortunately, this normally happens at a point where I’m sweaty enough that the whole proposition is a no-go anyway.

For me, I try to always envision an interval as a specific race scenario occurring and if I quit or drop the intensity I’ve lost the race at that moment. I even have a few scenarios that actually happened to me in races that I can latch on to where if I had just held my power for another minute I’d stayed on to the bunch or had that extra few seconds gap that would’ve made my break stick. That’s my usual trick when motivation is waning. I also have my mantra of “chop wood, carry water”, which I think is a Buddhist thing (I heard it on a Stoic podcast). It just reminds me that in order to get to my goal I need to put in the work needed.