Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dear Track, I Apologize for My Location-ism

I have long dreaded the idea of inevitable track workouts.  Running around in circles seems like such a bore; much like how I could never see myself as a NASCAR fan (Oh, look!  They're turning left...again!). 

However, Sunday I had my first track workout and I admit that I actually enjoyed it (*gasp*  Call the newspaper!).

Chelsea had asked me early last week if I wanted to do another workout with her Aunt Mona.  I've never done a speed workout, but I figured it could be useful.  However, I was unable to get in my long run the prior Saturday, so I got up and ran 5.7 miles before heading to the track; Mona didn't think so highly of that move.  haha

After walking to the track, Mona told us to do an 800m to warm up at our natural pace and keep a constant pace.  I hit the 400m around 1:35 and didn't even do the math until we stopped and walked for a bit.  I had hit a 6:20 pace 800m.  W-O-W.  Then we did a set of 4 x 400s.

Mona had talked to us about how marathoners look to the 10k as their speed work distance, so she gave us 400m splits based on target 10k times.  Since my best 5k was a 6:16 pace (94 second 400m), she gave me 92 seconds as a slight challenge.  The goal here was to guesstimate your pace on the first lap, check your time and adjust until you hit the pace and keep it up.  Also, you only take enough time between 400s to clear your watch and start again; no catching your breathe!

My first 400m was 87 seconds (5s too fast & a 5:48 mile pace overall).  I pulled back on the speed just slightly and hit 400m at 1:32 (perfect!).  Then Mona told me to do the last 2 consecutively.  I picked off the third 400 in 92 seconds and the last in 93.  I had just run a 6:08 mile (minus the 10s of rest I had in total) and felt GREAT!, even after having ran 5.7 miles that morning and having ITB pain.

The advice we got was that speed work is not generally implemented until a month into your training and sometimes doesn't even come up until 5 week prior to your race.  We were advised to use it once a week and integrate it right into the day's workout.  If the day calls for a hard 5 miles, do an 800 warm up and cool down with sets of 4 x 400s or 4 x 800s to fill up your distance needs.  But don't drop your pace until you can hold it for 4 x 800s or multiple sets of 4 x 400s and not be out of breathe!  And only drop by 2s once you can hold a given pace; otherwise you risk major injury. 

The point of speed work is to get your muscles used to your race pace.  If you run constantly at 8 or 9:00 pace, you can't expect to pop off a 7:00 pace come race day.  So while your long and recovery runs are at a slower pace, speed work is an attempt to get closer and closer to your goal pace and then habituating your muscles to it. 

Overall, the track workout was fun!  While I enjoy slower runs for the ability to see how far I can go and "explore" my neighborhood in a way, the track workout is fun to test how fast my legs can move me and where I stand on speed.

I not only am unafraid of track/speed workouts now.  I'm quite enthusiastic about them!

After taking Marathon Monday as my rest day (my legs thanked me for the time off), I went out this morning (Tuesday) and clicked off a 3.15 mile run in 20:08 (6:23 pace).  Speed feels great!

1.  Do you make use of speed work?  If so, what made you start doing it?

2.  Are you better mentally at long exploratory runs or short speedy (left turn only) runs?
I like a known path for testing speed, but if I head out to run anything else, I like new paths to explore.

3.  Any NASCAR fans out there?

How can you watch it?

Stay fit.  Stay healthy. 


Anonymous said...

Nice 3 miler! I love track workouts. I was a 400er in highschool so I love 400 repeats.

I hate long runs and Nascar!

Coy Martinez said...

No NASCAR fan here. Puts me to sleep, all the noise.

I need to do more speedwork so I'm of no use. I'm one to go on a long slow run.

5 Miles 2 Empty said...

not exactly a nascar fan but SHhhhhh!! Dont tell anyone, I am in the thick of nascar country here in NC.

i like track work. I usually like to do 400s anywhere from 4-10 of them, I have done 4x1200s too, and sometimes ladders: 300/400/600/800/600/400/200 or if you prefer longer 400/800/1200/1200/800/400 those are hard. but it works! I can see a major improvement in my pace when i do one day a week of speed on the track!!

Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

I am not a fan of the track either. I'm thinking maybe that you had someone there helped?

Better at the long runs...

And totally not a nascar fan! lol

Richelle said...

I've never really done speedwork per se before, and yet I've gotten faster each year. I like to believe I'm becoming a more efficient runner. But yes, I'd like to get in some speedwork this summer.

No, I'm not a NASCAR fan. Never want to be.