THE CRITIC: "To set a PR I have to do an interval workout, tempo run, hill repeats, and long run every single week"
THE COMEBACK: "It's healthy and smart to allow myself to occasionally run for fun."
Allowing some flexibility in your training doesn't just prevent burnout, it can actually help you clock a faster time. "If you are constantly pushing yourself hard and always critiquing every training run, you can become tense and anxious about your running," Zinsser says. "That stress will follow you into competition and hurt your chances of performing well." Zinsser suggests giving yourself a break from the rigors of prescribed workoutshit the road without a time or distance goal, or hook up with a buddy for a relaxed, social run. "Anything that helps you recapture how it felt to run as a kid when it was all just for fun."