Thursday, July 23, 2009

On the Track

I don’t know what it is about Wednesday nights, but we always seem to get crappy weather for our MIT speed workouts. When we’re running on the track it’s always really windy or raining, which was the case this week. When we’re on the trail or at Antrim, without access to water, it’s always really hot or humid. I swear we haven’t caught a break as far as weather goes for months. Doing our speed workouts in this weather probably makes us stronger runners but it’s not a lot of fun. In the grand scheme of things we’ve been very lucky in Ohio and have had a pretty mild and dry summer thus far. I can’t imagine living in the SW where temps are regularly over 100 or the SE where temps are regularly in the 90’s with high humidity. Enough about the weather…

I took a few days rest after Saturday’s 50k, to rest the foot a bit. I taped my foot up before the run, knowing it wouldn’t hold in the rain, but I hoped it would get me through the warm up. The workout for the day called for 3x800m at interval pace, 4x1200m at tempo pace, finishing up with 4x400m at fast pace. I was ready to shut it down at any point if the foot was hurting me, which I pretty much expected.

After a 2 mile warm-up we started into the 800m repeats. A couple of us were talking initially about what pace we would actually run the 800s, since interval pace is different for all of us. A few of the guys said they were going to shoot for 6:00 mile pace and I decided I would just follow them and see how the foot reacted. As always, the people who said they were shooting for 6:00 pace took it out too fast. I felt very good, so while some slowed down after 200 or 400m I continued on, coming through the half at 2:45…5:30 pace. Ok, so maybe 6:00 pace is too slow. The workout called for a 90 second active recovery, which for me is about a 9:30 mile pace, for others it’s a walk/jog shuffle. I tend to tighten up and get some discomfort in my shins if I go too slow on the recovery. The 2nd and 3rd 800 also clocked in at 2:45, which was a very relaxed pace. 6 months ago I killed myself to hold 3:00 800’s for Yasso workouts, so it’s neat to see the improvement I’m making.

After another 90 second recovery I jumped into the 1200’s. If the 800’s were done at 5:30 mile pace and the 1200’s were supposed to be run slower I figured 6:00 mile pace would be appropriate. The 1200’s felt really easy. I guess that’s a good thing but I was questioning whether I was getting enough out of the workout. The 1200’s called for a 3 minute recovery jog between sets, which seemed way too long! Since the actual intervals weren’t as challenging I ran the recovery at 8:30 pace instead of 9:30 pace. After completing 4 1200’s I was ready for the 4 “fast” 400’s.

My thought was, if the 800’s were run at 5:30 pace and the 1200’s were run at 6:00 pace than I should do the 400’s at 5:00 pace. It felt like I was flying around the track thinking, “wow, I forgot how fast a 5 minute mile is!” I fell a little short of my goal, finishing my 400’s in 77, 78, 78, and 79 seconds. I can keep up 6:00 pace for a long time but I don’t have the leg turnover to handle 5:00 pace…never have. All in all it was a very good workout and I did very well. I was very fortunate that I complete the workout without any flare-ups with the plantar fascittis. It was absolutely pouring rain while we were running so I felt really good about running the times I did in the weather as well. Being the competitor I am though, I was more than a little disappointed in my 400 splits though.

My initial post workout thoughts were, “what can I do to improve that leg turnover?” I was devising ladder workouts: 4x100m 4x200m 8x400m 4x200m 4x100m. That should help with my speed right? Then it sort of dawned on me, why do I need to get faster? This isn’t high school where I’m competing in the 800m dash or the 1600m. In the grand scheme of things I could really care less about how fast I run a 5k. I’m more focused on marathon and ultra distances, where leg turnover is really not that important. Speed work always helps, it improved aerobic capacity and lactic threshold, but I don’t need to worry too much about developing my fast-twitch muscles.

For now I’ll stay focused on getting stronger and staying healthy.


  1. Okay, this is the 4th blog post I read regarding a trck workout. Sounds like I need to go do.......a Track Workout!

  2. I think Columbus Running Company has Thursday night speed workouts at Blacklick Woods, which isn't too far for us. I've never joined them for a workout but I've been thinking about checking it out.
    You, me, and Mike Keller should get together for a Sunday bike ride sometime. I've been wanting to dust off my bike for years and have never got around to it!

  3. Sounds like your legs have bounced right back! Nice job!!