Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Return to the Track

In a departure from my usual lunch-time run around the park close to where I work I thought I’d mix it up a bit and do a few intervals at the track there instead. I haven’t done a track workout in over 14 months due to my injuries but you have to climb back on the horse sooner or later. My feet, neck and back problems have improved enough that I was finally willing to take a chance at running a little harder.

After an easy mile warm-up in 9:40 I arrived at the track. Now, don’t assume this is some fancy suburban, synthetic track. The track I’m running is a lumpy, bumpy, cinder track at a city park. Today it was complete with horse dung, dogs and other obstacles to avoid. But running around, over and through obstacles are what trail runners are all about. Why not have a few at the track too?

I decided to run 3 mile repeats with a quarter-mile jog in between. I was shooting for 8:15 – 8:30 pace for the mile. I know that sounds so incredibly slow for a track workout but since most of my runs are in the 9:30+ range it would still be a speed workout for me. Also, my goal race for this year is a trail marathon and the best I can hope for there is probably around a 10 minute average pace. If I start doing some 8 minute miles once a week, the 10 minute pace at the marathon should feel fairly easy.

Off I went on the first mile. I decided not to check my quarter-mile splits wanting to test my internal clock to see if I could sense what the intended mile pace felt like. It was obvious I had no clue what an 8 minute mile felt like. I came through mile 1 in 7:17. Wow, didn’t think I could feel that good running that fast. I jogged around the track for my rest lap. I would slow down for the 2nd mile.

After finishing my rest lap in 2:25 I was off again. This time I backed off the pace. It still felt like I was running too fast but again the pace felt easy. Mile 2 was completed in 7:28. Yeah, I slowed down, barely! Once again I jogged a rest lap. Since I totally blew the 8:15-8:30 pace plan, I would just run the last mile like the first two. I finished my rest lap in 2:20.

Running the last mile felt as easy as the first two. Don’t get me wrong, I was breathing a little heavier than usual and my heart rate was faster but still under control. Saving the best for last, I ran mile 3 in 7:15. I finished the workout with a mile cool-down and then it was back to work. Ugh!

I was very pleased with this workout. The effort it took to run this pace was much less than I would have expected. I am going to make this a weekly routine up until the week before the marathon. Not only should it result in a faster marathon, it will break up the monotony of all the slow running I’ve been doing. Also, it just feels good to run fast!

To quote “ultrachick” Kelly, “If you never go fast, you’ll never go fast”.

Until next time…..


  1. Isn't it cool when that happens! I have had similiar experiences on a couple of shorter road 'tempo' runs, tempo meaning I just wanted to run and feel like I was laboring a little, and got home realizing I had shattered my 5k and 5 miler road PRs from last year. I'd like to run some mile repeats, but I still have my anxiety of track work caused by track Nazi college coaches... silly me. :-)

  2. Good job, Dan! Speed work has never been fun for me, I understand the necessity, and my coach throws them into my training program about once a week. I have a voodoo doll of him for those days. ;o)


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