On Halloween, athletes share their toughest and most terrifying workouts

Those sessions that give you the fear. They loom on your training schedule but you know they will be worth the pain. The scary sessions that you love to hate.

What better time than Halloween to hear some horror stories? Here some of Britain’s athletics stars share their toughest and most terrifying workouts.

European and Commonwealth 1500m medallist Jake Wightman

“My scariest session is up a grass hill in Guildford we use during the winter. It’s about 300m long and 15% gradient and we can do up to 15 reps of it. The aftermath is like a scene from The Exorcist!”

Five-time Paralympic gold medallist wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft

“An 800m pyramid – 4 x 200m, 2 x 400m, an 800m and back down, usually twice through. It sounds atrocious before you start but I secretly quite enjoy it once I’m going!”

World Cross, European and Commonwealth medallist Tim Hutchings

“96 x 100m. We used a large football pitch – sprinted the sides (100m) in 15 seconds and jogged across the ends in about 25 seconds, so 80 seconds per ‘lap’. I would hit a pretty good speed in the 100m sides of the pitch, so it was harder than a ‘stride’. By the time you’d turned the corner at the end of each straight and slowed down, you really only got about 15 seconds actual jog recovery. The challenge was to keep on top of the Everest you were staring up at, at the start of it, then to keep ticking off little achieved ‘goals’ – like every 10 done was a ‘mountain stage’ of the ascent done! After 48, we told ourselves it was ‘downhill from here on’ which was of course rubbish, as when you’ve got 40, 30, or 20 to go, your fatigue is accumulating but there is still a lot of work to be done. It used to take about an hour!”

European 800m finalist (and talented makeup artist – see below) Adelle Tracey

“The session that sticks out for me is probably 6 x 300m off 3 minutes. It always leaves me feeling like an empty shell of a woman afterwards but if I can hold the last rep together through the lactic it’s also a good indicator that I’m in great shape!”

Commonwealth 20km race walk silver medallist and multiple world record-holder Tom Bosworth

“We only do them when we are in places like at altitude or warm weather training but it’s 5 x 3km with 1km recovery in between. At altitude, with 5km or 8km worth of warm up, so we’re talking around 25km. It’s scary but you have the sense of achievement at the end of it. It’s so long and in the heat often you’re starting at 9am and finishing at 11am and you sleep for a long time afterwards!”

British pole vault record-holder Holly Bradshaw

“Strength gymnastics, so rope climbs, chin ups, leg lifts and ring holds. It’s all body weight strength stuff and I hate it!”

Britain’s third best-ever half-marathoner Jake Smith

“One of the hardest sessions I do is on the track. It’s 10 miles of 1km hard/1km steady. I did this before the world half-marathon and ran the full 10-mile distance in 47:10. I averaged 2:45 for the hard kilometres and 3:05 for the steady kilometres. Another track session would be 2 x 4 miles with 3 minutes jog. Running faster than half-marathon pace. I got out in a 2:46 kilometre and knew it was going to hurt! I also have to say the fast 20-mile long run. This was the longest run of the block and I ran in the hills, climbing well over 1000ft. I averaged 5:37 for the whole thing, finishing quickly towards the end.”

Olympic 3000m silver medallist Wendy Sly

“Every Sunday morning in my late teenage years and then when I was at Loughborough, we used to meet at Virginia Water in the car park and run three or four miles to a hilly circuit, which would be around three to five-minute reps with a short recovery, in The Savill Garden. Every member of the group that I ran with at the time will remember those sessions – they became almost legendary. I used to be on my knees at the end of it. They were the making of most of us.”

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