TRAINING: Another Track Session

Thursday evening:

My “quality taper” continues unabated. Having recovered muscle strength after Sunday’s long haul up the Galtees, I am now focusing on getting two more quality session in before Snowdon.

The first completed yesterday and my plan was to do a 3k or 1 Mile pace session (depending on how I felt) in the shape of 14x400m with 30 seconds non-active recovery (rest).

My target pace for 3k pace is currently 03:47min/km which I know is too conservative as it’s slower than my last 10k race pace, so I decided to go for the 1 Mile target pace of 3:34min/km. I was still a bit stiff from all the hills, so executed a 4k warm-up on the track followed by a long session of dynamic warm-ups.

Unfortunately my meticulous planning didn’t protect me from human error. I have trained a lot at 10k pace this year, but this would be my first time training at the 1 mile, 3k or 5k pace ranges. Therefore I wasn’t sure how it should “feel”. I went off and finishing the first lap with quite a bit of discomfort I looked at my watch and saw “1:15” or 75 seconds. Somehow I misread this as being just about my target pace. Distraught that it had taken such energy I executed the next 7 in about the same pace until I needed a longer break as my recovery of 30 seconds simply didn’t take.

The 10k Perspective

What I had forgotten was that my actual target pace (for hitting 3:34min/km) was not 75 seconds but 85 seconds! I realised this after having executed one more lap and immediately tried to pull in the reins on the remaining 5 and managed to “slow down” and do 80, 80, 84, 84, and 85. The average pace for the session was 3:19min/km. This pace I find very interesting as it’s close to my target 10k pace (3:18min/km). Seeing how this pace tired me out towards the end of a 400m puts the task at hand into perspective. A 10000m is 25 laps, so I need to be able to keep that pace up for 25 times longer than I can currently do!

Snowdon Perspective

Today’s session served two purposes: First to get some speed and efficiency back into the legs before the downhill part of Snowdon and second to give the heart a good workout to prime it for the uphill part.

Contrary to outdated beliefs some benefits of training can manifest as early as the day after your session. In the old paradigm were most adaptations were physiological it was understood that adaptations need significant time to occur and that, in this instance, the full benefits of this session will only be available to me in a few weeks time. However, the brain learns overnight (indeed the brain practices running and other movements while you sleep). Therefore doing a session that requires quick leg-turnover (such as running at a pace of 3:19min/km for a runner like me) almost immediately provides benefits in terms of your brains capacity to quickly recruit muscle fibres for this type of movement.

Running down Snowdon at my target pace to hit 90 minutes, I won’t actually need to run quicker than 03:43min/km (a pace I already master), so this session should make this pace seem even more manageable.

Next Up – Speed-Endurance

Fast leg turn-over does not equip me with all I need to survive Snowdon, however, so on Saturday I will fall back one last time before the race on my favourite session: The 10k race pace.

This session I find terrific because it forces you to run long intervals at a pace that you can use not just in 10k races but in most hill races (and at many times in other races) as well. Because the repetitions are always 1000m or longer, the specificity of the exercise is much higher than for the 400ms. In this way you build not just speed but speed and endurance at the same time.

My final session is simple, but testing, 4x2k at 10k pace with 2:00 float. The target pace, however, is a modest 4:04min/km which will keep the session from becoming too draining with just 7 days to go. I’ll finish with 12 minutes of peaking sprint to get the body tuned to the constant stop and go of hill running and to harness final neuromuscular efficiencies.

Today will be a day of easy running to recover for this final session. Then the work is completed and only the highest peak outside Scotland on the Irish and British Isles awaits me.