Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Last Track Workout in a Series of 4

I have now attempted four track workouts in preparation for the Chicago marathon.  I described the first three in previous blog entries:
(1) 5x800s the week of 7/11 here, (2) 6x800s the week of 8/1 here, and (3) 7x800s the week of 8/22 here.

I've come a long way since my first set, when I wrote, "When I got home, I looked up my splits on my watch and averaged them to a 3:15---3:25, 3:08, 3:11, 3:14, 3:19."  I was all over the place, just trying to figure out how fast to be going.  I was a newbie for sure!

Though my second workout went okay, my third went pretty badly, as seen here:
"3:26, 3:27, 3:20, 3:22, 3:17, 3:26, ? (forgot to hit stop)

My legs just felt off today. My right leg wanted to limp a little (something in my lower calf?). My left leg felt a little weak and burned for some of the repeats. I just felt like I couldn't kick it into the right gear. I sucked it up and ran them anyway, too stubborn to miss a key speed workout, getting madder at myself with each repeat."   I feel foolish for even attempting that workout when I was in so much pain.  It is obvious that I needed rest that day and not a tough workout.  Hindsight is 20/20!

Today's Speedwork 8x800s September 14, 2011

So today's workout really could have gone either way, but I was hoping that it would go well!  It is the longest of the sets of repeats, and it is the one that will remain freshest in my mind on race day.  Fortunately, I was able to reap the benefits of a nice cool start (in the 60s).  My friend, Sarah, agreed to come to the track too, and it was great to have the company.
My splits were: 3:07, 3:09, 3:12, 3:11, 3:11, 3:14, 3:08, and 3:08.
I was very pleased with my times, but I still struggled with feeling like a klutz out there.  My earpieces kept popping out of my ears during the laps.  Then one of them quit working, so I just turned my music off and took them out.  It was much harder to run without the distraction.  Case in point, my slowest lap was my first lap without the music (the 3:14).  I also found it hard to keep my effort consistent over the entire distance.  I would surge and then run slower, surge and then run slower throughout each 800.  My rest laps (one rest lap in between two laps of hard running) were a clumsy mixture of panting, shuffling, and chugging some water and nuun.  
My average was 3:10, well under my target average of 3:15, but, more importantly, I kept them within 7 seconds of each other--unlike the 17 second difference in my first speed workout.  I have gotten a more consistent pace for the 800s as the weeks go on.  Also, I was able to hold roughly the same pace over more repeats.
I am new to speedwork in training, but I wanted to try it this year in preparation for Chicago.  Of the three types of speedwork (hill, tempo, and track), the track workouts are the ones I initially enjoyed the least and did the most poorly.  I didn't know how to maintain a consistent pace or even what pace to aim for!  I have seen improvements in my ability to hold a consistent pace and have grown to somewhat enjoy the feeling of pushing myself during training to help me achieve my end goal (the 3:15 at Chicago).  I am interested to see the benefits on race day.  Will I feel stronger at the end?  Only time will tell.

If you have never done track workouts and want to improve your times, I urge you to give them a try.  While I said that I feel like a klutz out there, believe me, no one cares!  I had to get over feeling self conscious, and besides there is usually only at most three other people out there in the morning!  Remember that my first time out there was a big learning experience for me too.  If you stick with it, they will get easier.  By sharing my experience, I hope you will be encouraged to give it a try too!

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