DIARY: Field test

You can test whether an air plane will fly endlessly in simulations but there comes a time when you have to put it in the air and see if those simulations are true.

All the training we do as competitors in a sport are partly a simulation of things that will occur during a race or a competitive event (such as a match) or sometimes even “stress tests”.

Ferrycarrig 5 mile

So with that in mind, Aoife and I have decided to do something we rarely do: to enter a race at the very beginning of our training – in the shape of the Ferrycarrig 5 mile in Wexford this Sunday. It is a stage of training that many competitors are nervous about – because they are untested, feel unfit and have had no training to build confidence on. It feels like you’re stepping into the unknown.

Personally, I stayed clear of these events in the past because I knew that a set-back would have a negative emotional impact – e.g. I’d lose confident or get frustrated or aggressive. So I prepared meticulously for events and only raced when I felt certain I was fully prepared and almost assure of a positive performance. I still believe in this as ideal for me – e.g. be fully prepared and then race.

Breaking the rules

So why divert this Sunday? Well, there’s two reasons – a silly one and a serious one. The silly first: we’re in Wexford anyway this weekend preparing for our wedding (which incidentally will be in the Ferrycarrig). The serious reason is that both Aoife and I have spend the majority of 2012 improving our running technique and this is a good opportunity to see the isolated effects of that type of training and our current ability to maintain good technique in a race situatio.

We would like to do a field test of how far the technical training alone, in the absence of any period of traditional physiological training,has brought us. My previous 5 mile best is 29:23 (3:39min/km pace). But my goal in this race is to keep my strong technique through the race at the highest possible pace. Having no raced since May last year it will be fascinating to see where things stand and how well I can run. I will likely use my VivoBarefoot Aqua Lites which I have only used once previously (a 3000m Fit4Life race last Spring).

So, I am going in with a “learning mindset” rather than a “racing mindset” and on Sunday we’ll see how my starting point for 2013 looks like.