Having trained for many years I can recall many times I have reached this state of zen. A long run in the forest on a trail, a hard stair workout by a waterfall, a leisurely bike ride after the end of a hard skate.
This is what I strive for. It is the joy of the work itself. My head, body and heart are one.
When the intensity is cranked up, I feel it. Being totally focused on the task, this is when it works. When racing, I am totally focused. By training this way I am preparing for the intense race conditions. Train to race, race like I train. This is the connection of all of me and the Zen of intense work.
Keeping my priorities straight for this intense work is the key. When I train, I train hard. I work up to it gradually within each workout as well as over the course of my season and years.
The payoff is incredible. Making progress is very rewarding. The way I feel during and after make the work a joy.
Having trouble with being able to train hard? If you need to prioritize, take out the volume and put in the intensity. Work up to it gradually, and enjoy the zen of intense training.