To me, the three choices a runner has when running a race or a hard workout is to feel good, be uncomfortable or suffer.
You can’t suffer in every workout or you’ll either get hurt or start the process of overtraining. But don’t deceive yourself when it comes to races – you’re going to suffer if the goal is to run to your fitness level. You might feel good through 3k of a 5k, but the next 1k is going to be tough and that last 1k you’ll suffer…if you run to your fitness level.
Learning to run fast when you’re uncomfortable is a skill that takes time, but it’s an essential skill if you want to reach your potential as a runner.
Should you feel good on your easy days? Definitely. Should you feel good during a progression run? Maybe, if you’re lucky enough to have one of those days where you can run the whole run, even the fast running at the end of the run, feeling good. But most new runners, regardless of age, don’t know what discomfort feels like and they run most of their runs feeling good.
After you’ve raced for a number of years you’re going to have to suffer to run a new PR. And learning how to do that takes time.
Back to being uncomfortable. When you’re doing challenging General Strength and Mobility (GSM) you have the opportunity to practice being uncomfortable. Core H is a great example of learning to be uncomfortable for 10 minutes. You don’t need to do Core H every day, but you do need to do some GSM every day, plus, you need to do some GSM that is challenging two or three times a week. If you follow the “Hard days Hard, Easy days Easy” approach to training, then that means you’ll do a workout that pushes you to the edge of suffering, you grab a quick drink of water (or a recovery drink), then you go right into GSM that requires you to focus while you’re uncomfortable. The good news is that you leave the session knowing your hard day was hard and that tomorrow you get to run easy.
Note: If you read the comments below the Core H video you’ll see that someone said they can’t do core work daily. I completely understand. Being a good runner is a choice.