How many of you are training by doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result? It is easy to fall into the same routine with exercise and don't get me wrong, routine is a good thing. But, if you want to improve, I believe from time to time you will need to get out of your comfort zone and change up the routine a bit. A client of mine gave me the name "The Evil Genius" and I think it largely came from the fact that I challenge him to reach beyond what he thinks is possible.
Lets take a simple swimming set of 10 x 100 @ 1:30
There are 3 ways to modify this set to make it more challenging.
1. Intensity - Same number of repeats, same interval but increase speed.
2. Duration - Same speed, same interval but add more repeats 12 x 100 or 15 x 100
3. Rest - Same number of repeats, same speed but on shorter rest interval of 1:25
What you choose to modify should focus on what your limiters are. You can apply this to your cycling and running when planning workouts. In addition, the type of training route you choose (flat, rolling, hilly) can help get you out of your comfort zone.
How often should you get out of your comfort zone? Once a week for beginners would be a good place to start. A more seasoned athlete may choose twice a week. Keep in mind there is not only a physical toll on these workouts, but a mental one. Often times the real gains come from the latter as the physical ability was always there, but the mind was lagging a bit in confidence or preconceived self imposed limits.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable and watch your fitness and performance improve.
Train smart, race fast!