TRAINING: 1 Night, 4 PBs

I decided to test the body and injury ahead of Sunday's intermediate with a session that would both sharpen me and test my fitness especially with an eye on the very fragmented last 2.5 weeks. And what a test it was, I've rarely left the track so chuffed!

I started off with 3.2k warmup, then some dynamics and then did another 1k to get the legs all ready. To get speed in them I did a Lydiard session called "Windsprints" which consists of sprinting for 100m and floating for 200m. I did four of these as a stride session then went to the line and mentally focused on my favourite trial distance: The Mile

I've only run two miles in my life, a 5:52 back in 2007 and then my current PB 5:21 run early in the year when I was coming back. Today I was going out just to break it: My plan was to set off at around the pace necessary (3:19min/km) and then put the boot down on the last 400m. But as I would learn on this night, that's not how a mile is run nor how they are won (for fans of the mile they are generally won with a positive split of 49%/51% and are the last distance to be won more often with a positive than negative split).

The First Four-Hundred
I went at a hard pace (it took me about 500m to realise it felt a bit too hard) but with great flow in my step and as I looked at the clock at the end of the first lap I was shocked to see it had only taken me 70 seconds (beating my old record by 3 seconds) in 2:56min/km pace.

I slowed down a bit now as the initial burst wore off and onus was now on stabilising my stride and my breathing. First came 800m in 2:31 (PB by a second) then I crossed the first kilometre in 3:12 (no PB), 7 seconds ahead of schedule, the third lap hurt a bit but was over quicker than expected. My fastest 100m and 200m sprints are normally run in 16 and 31 seconds in my speed sessions so perhaps I run these too slow as I managed four 100s in 17 seconds (1, 2, and 4) and the first two 200s in 35 seconds.

With half a lap to go I looked at the clock and realised running in the third lane meant there was only 100m to go!!! 1500m had been taken in 4:52 (3 seconds off my old PB) but my sprint was now opened far too late. Nevertheless I gave it socks as best as I could and stopped, gasping heavily but not shockingly so, in 5:11. 10 seconds taken and I can only wonder just how close I could have come to joining the sub-5 club tonight with better experience and better timing of the sprint.

That Great Feeling
In the midst of a threatening injury crisis, this was the most welcome morale boost possible. It shows that the 6 quality weeks I got in have put me at my best fitness level ever going by a mile trial (and I should add on aerobic training only, to perfect the 800 and the mile you need to build a level of anaerobic conditioning later in the year that is actually detrimental to your form above the 800/1500m distance).

The mind boggles on what can be achieved with more than 6 weeks of training and a perfectly directed strength, speed and anaerobic run-up. And this potent weapon of aerobic running is just lying there, available to all athletes, waiting to be picked up.

All my hopes can still be scuppered if this injury doesn't heal, or, if it get's worse. Clever management will be key. I'll monitor the signals over the next two days and if all looks well, I'll do the intermediates (my close to the cross season) before moving into 4 more weeks at reduced mileage (I'm targetting 60k this week, hopefully 66 then, 75 and 85, if all well by then I'll build to as close to 120 again as I can before the aerobic phase ends but with some modifications and a few periodisation weeks). For now I'll just enjoy this...

I'm so inspired by this lonely dark run on the unlit Charlesland Track that I will do a mile trial in every periodisation week I have in the aerobic phase now. Its a wonderful way to test your training, focus the mind, and get a kick of adrenaline between all the long slogs.

An uncomfortable question needs to be faced though: Am I really a long to ultra-distance runner? Am I really a trail and mountain runner? My strongest performances over the last years have come in very traily races (Wicklow Way Relay and Trail, Snowdon) or on the roads (10ks, marathons, half-marathons). Something to think about...

To cooldown I did a lap easy and then did another 6 windsprints as described below. After that I went out for a 5k jog in Greystones. 30k gone this week, 35 to go and even with the hiccups only a few week away from the 3000k mark for the year. Its all about staying the distance, hopefully I can...


Colm O'Cnoic said…
Just in responce to your section on are you really a mountian runner as your strongest perfomances are on the roads...
How do you class a strong performance? Percentage of winners time or a pre defined personal goal?
Renny said…
Hi Colm

It's a variety of factors really. The ones you mention I would definitely look at but mainly how I seem to fare against "rivals" comparably in the hills or the on the roads.

This year in particular there has been a marked tendency for me to be closer or ahead of people that I have not been able to compete against in the hills on the roads (either time wise or in the actual race).

In the Wicklow Way Trail and Relays my times were the 5th fastest on the day. Both these races have a lot of trail but are also longer than 20k which seems to work significantly to my advantage as well, so it may not be only terrain.

It is possible that the main reason for the discrepancy is that I just prepared awfully for the LL this year and was in a bad state for those races whereas I managed to pull together good tapers for the longer races, for my 10ks, and my half-marathon.

It remains an open question, but one I need to grapple with. I love the hills but if my talent lies somewhere else, then perhaps that's where I should focus.
Colm O'Cnoic said…
It could be that by preparing badly for the LL that your legs were fresher for later in the season for the half M and longer races.