Since I completely lost track of time last week due to excitement over the Double Dipsea (will post on that soon), here are some thoughts from January 2012.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
On Tuesday night, I ran 10 x 800m with 90 seconds jog rest (which basically equated to 200m of slow jogging). My splits were much better than I thought they would be and the workout left me feeling invigorated and excited. Unlike last week’s 800s, which were miserable and lonely and cold, these 800s were run with a group. The temperature was also warmer, but having people around is what really made the difference.
At its biggest, the group consists of 6-7 guys, all of whom ran in college and all of whom are still competitively running at various distances. All are fast. It’s a great advantage in workouts. Having a group of people there makes a huge difference versus running a workout solo. When you’re alone, it’s mentally and physically harder to run the same pace. You have to do all of the work of breaking the wind, thinking about how fast you’re running, and most of all, convincing yourself to keep going. When you’re in a group, you can alternate who leads the reps, which gives you a break. You just sit on someone’s heel or shoulder, let them worry about the pace and break the wind. You can check out for an entire rep and get pulled along. All of these advantages basically allow you to run as fast as you would alone with less effort, or even run faster than you would alone with the same effort.
However, if you’re not careful, you may become dependent on others for pacing or drafting, relying on them to do the work instead of doing it yourself. And while the accountability that one feels to a group is likely to prevent you from dropping out, there is no substitute for doing the work by yourself. You are constantly engaged, thinking, calculating and working. Every step of every rep. It gets very tiring very quickly. You may not run quite as fast, but I think working out alone is a must every once in a while. The tiny amount of incremental fitness you might gain from running those slightly faster times in the group is vastly outweighed by the mental strength you gain running alone from time to time. Getting through a solo workout is a victory in and of itself. Hitting your planned times is phenomenal, but simply getting through it shows you how tough you can be. If you don’t let yourself quit when you’re alone, there’s no way you’ll succumb when you’re in a race, with other competitors and spectators. Pushing through that boundary, coaxing yourself back from the point of quitting will make you that much stronger mentally. It will give you the confidence to say: “I’ve been here before. I know this pain. I can beat it.”
Group efforts allow you to run fast and make it easy not to quit. Solo efforts familiarize you with doing work and forge a mentality that refuses to yield.
Why are the turns so tight?!?
Monday, January 30, 2012
I ran my first indoor track race in 6-7 years on Saturday. Monk, Patrick and I drove up to Lynchburg, VA, to race at Liberty University. We all ran in the 3k and were all placed in the 2nd (faster) heat. I wasn’t sure of what I would be able to run, since the 3k is a fast race due to its shorter length and I really haven’t done any speedwork since it’s so early in the season. I seeded myself at 8:40 and ended up winning the race in 8:37. Patrick and I figured the race would go out too fast, and were correct as the leaders ran the 1st lap in 32-33 seconds. He and I found ourselves at the back of the pack (came through in 34-35) and I quickly moved myself up into 2nd over the next lap or two. After 3 laps, I was in 2nd behind a collegiate runner and took the lead for good 1k into the race. I came through the 1st mile in 4:36, running relatively even splits (34-35 second laps), and continued to hold the pace for the rest of the race. I was really pleased with the performance because it felt quite manageable, especially for this early in the season and I didn’t feel like I was fading at the end. I feel like I could run close to that pace for 5k right now, and to feel that way in January certainly bodes well for the rest of the season, I hope. I need to keep running solid workouts, stay sharp with some quality races and keep my mileage up consistently. I dropped my mileage from 100+ to 82 last week in an effort to feel fresh for the race and as I had hoped, I felt good come the weekend. The ability to frontload weeks means that I can drop the mileage later in the week and still leave my legs feeling fresh. This is something I can do in my 100+ mile weeks as well. Anyways, it was a great start to the track season and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming months have in store.
An added benefit to dropping mileage (even if it’s to 80mpw) and running relatively low daily totals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday means that I felt fantastic today on both of my runs today. I felt strong, relaxed and smooth. My morning run just flew by and my evening run felt as if it were my 1st run of the day despite having 14 miles in my legs. I ended up going 10 miles because I was feeling so good. I’m hoping I’m past the fatigue of those 4 straight 100+ mile weeks and that when I string a couple more together, I’ll be able to handle it a bit better.