DIARY: Countdown to the National Novice

Sunday afternoon the Christmas holidays start in earnest for Aoife and I and it has nothing to do with getting off work, rather the last race we have planned for the season is the National Novice in Tullamore. It's been a long protracted wait for this race but personally I am fired up and hope the weather will not scupper our chances of taking the starting line although this seems likely at the moment.

A standard Lydiard week of preparation has been the approach this week with a session of short, fast windsprints, a completely improvised easy fartlek, and an 800m time trial at "very strong" effort. For the latter I picked the best quality broken up tarmac I could find nearby with as few snow and ice patches as I could see around. It was mainly flat, without too many turns, 3m climb and 5m decline so only the strong wind blowing from the lake made it less effortless than it could be. Always working on steady pacing is another key part of these workouts so I was happy that only two my 200m splits were more than one second off the average 200 pace (and in each direction so it worked out nicely). While it may not seem like much, Prefontaine won one of his great victories by slowly increasing his pace for every 400m by a second. This happened so slowly the guy on his shoulder didn't realise what was happening until it was too late: Pre burned him off and soared away for an unimpeded win.

I can only marvel at the precision of the Go2Lydiard estimates when my controlled effort came within 10 seconds of the set target. Work in the wind and you have it. When you are running close to 20kph, most any headwind will add at least a second per 200m. I always look forward to my 800m, 1500m and 1 mile workouts, these are wonderful distances where you can really shake off the stiffness and express your natural speed. Jogging home after, I feel energised and upbeat from the feeling of flowing swiftly over the ground. Now, let the weather gods permit us one last effort in 2010 before 2011 beckons.

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