A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Back at the Track

Last summer when I was training for the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon I started doing speedwork at a track near my house. I'd go every other Wednesday around 6:30. Every time I'd see a group of people doing their speedwork together and being encouraged and timed by a coach. I always wanted to know who they were but was too shy to go ask. Finally I overheard someone else asking one of the members. Turns out they were a subset of the Oak Park Runners Club! One of the things I was most looking forward to when I joined the club last fall was these summer speedwork sessions.

And last night was our first one. We met at the track around 6PM and practically had to beg to be let in. It seems that the college track team was finishing up their workout and NCAA rules are that no one else is allowed on the track during that time. So, we hung around until about 6:20 or so before we were allowed to start our warm-up.

We did a mile warm-up and you could see right away that there are all different paces. I did my warm-up in about 9:13 which is probably a little fast for me.

Then it was time for the workout. Our "coach" wanted us to run at about 75% of our 5K effort. Well, I'm really bad at figuring that kind of stuff out so I decided to aim for an 8 minute/mile pace. That's what my marathon training program thinks I should do speedwork at anyway.

Our total workout was:

4x800m with 1 min rest intervals
3x400m with 30 second rest intervals

The goal was to do each 800m faster that then previous one and then the same thing for the 400m. Our rest intervals consisted of walking back and forth or standing and waiting for the last person in the group to cross the line.

Apparently I've forgotten how to use the Garmin for speedwork so I don't have ALL my times, but they went something like this:

1st 800m - 3:58
2nd 800m - 3:59
3rd 800m - 3:49
4th 800m - 4:02

Okay, so, not quite negative splits but at least they are all fairly consistent! And right on my time goal.

The "coach" runs part way with various people in the group and then tries to end up back at the start/finish line before everyone else. He stands there with the stopwatch shouting out times and encouragement. Let me tell you, it really does help when you're dragging to have someone (or multiple someones) waving you in.

It also helps to have a group of people to commiserate with. Speedwork is fun but it is also WORK. They don't call it speedlaziness for a reason.

After recovering for a bit we took a vote on how many 400s we wanted to do. The consensus was three. So that's what we did. Again, I fail at Garmin but I think my splits went something like:

1st 400 - Under 2:00
2nd 400 - 1:59
3rd 400 - 2:01

So, again, consistent but not negative.

But, it's the first night. I can definitely see that I will improve over the course of the summer. Plus, it's just so much more fun to do this kind of stuff with other people. I love all the camaraderie, I love that even though we're naturally split into a few groups that it's not competitive at all. It's just a group of people who love to run and want to do their best.

After all those laps we did four more as a cool down mile. I was definitely dragging during my cool-down and I did it much slower (9:57). But, hey, you're supposed to go slow during the cool down!

Total we did 4.75 miles with warm-up and cool-down. Assuming my math is right.

Can't wait til next week!


Jamie said...

speed work is definitely WORK! nice job on the consistent repeats, especially your first time out there this year!

Anonymous said...

Wahoo! You did awesome! I will have to admit, I never really did speed work because I hate sprinting (I blame this on the year I tried track and field in 8th grade…and failed MISERABLY). So it’s fun to do what drills you do, and fun to track your progress!

kilax said...

Wow! Great job on getting out there and go so fast just a few days after the half!!! The group sounds like a lot of fun. Having a coach would be great. I can't wait to see your splits over the summer!

Did you ever share your blog with the running club?

Bob Bell, Oak Park Runners Club said...

Erin, excellent report, hopefully it will inspire others.. There is no substitute for speedwork at least once a week during "the season". It is a great way to get faster and stronger..I agree fun it is but it definitely is "work" so after you are finished you know and feel good that you accomplished something good. I ran track & cross-country at New Trier High and didn't think I would be doing speedwork in my 50's, 60's and now 70's!

The un-Zen Runner said...

I wanted to do speed work for soooo long, but didn't want to do it by myself (cuz it sucks)! But I recently finagled a few of my friends into joining and we've been doing it about once per week now. Great workout!

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