As much as I love torture (or **enhanced** training techniques!), I did not climb any ladders today...But we did a "ladder" interval workout on the track.
The workout involved running a 400, 800, and up to a 1200, and then going back down to run an 800 and, finally, a 400. My interval times were all in my Mcmillan pace range and felt good. I was pleased with my 1200 time of 5:39--which was at the faster end of my pace range. My breathing felt better than usual.
Track workouts are great for runners physically & mentally. Physically, these intervals are teaching my legs to move faster and my whole body how to deal with a faster heartrate. Since these intervals are much faster than marathon pace, they make your body feel more relaxed during long runs. Some runners do 8-10 intervals but that can have negative physical effects by causing injuries. I think these track workouts are even more beneficial for getting tougher mentally as a runner. You have to concentrate on the track because there's nothing else to do! So you focus on your form--how your legs are moving and where your arms are, you pay attention to your breathing--when and how to exhale and when the huffing and puffing starts. You have to dig deep---sometimes really deep. In my mind, I scream keep going and sometimes pretend that the marathon finish line is in front of me, with the clock's numbers ticking away. Most of all, I remind myself to harden the f** up.