"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

speedwork is relative

I set out to the track today intending to do 7 x 1 - mile repeats, thinking seven miles, no big deal, right?


I realize that the kind of running I have mostly done, long slow distance or "LSD" as it is popularly known, is a completely different beast from trying to run around a track as fast as you can. I'll go for a long run in the park and periodically speed up for awhile, even sprint now and then, and fancy that I'm moving right along. I've done 5k and 10k races before where I run at a pace considerably faster than my normal training pace but I've never done much speed training. However I am supposed to be doing it as part of the Galloway 3:45 marathon program.

Recovering from the first 1-mile effort, at 7'30" the fastest of the 5 repeats I managed to do, I thought maybe I was coming down with the flu because in less than 50 yards my heart rate had soared over the training zone into the "High" zone between 170 and 187. My legs felt as light and bouncy as mud. It was a long recovery but I finally gathered myself up for repeat #2, trying a strategy of starting slow and increasing the pace for each of the 4 laps, and finished in 8'32". Another recovery walk around the track and much stretching of the touchy left illiotibial band which was already saying "what the hell do we think we're doing?" in response to the "speed" training. During the 3rd repeat, watching a few other people jog around the track, I wondered if there was anything I could change about my running to make it more efficient and naturally quicker...why am I so slow? how is it that I can run for 3 hours straight but it nearly kills me to run a mile in under 8 minutes?

A young guy trotted past and I noticed that his foot turnover was much quicker. I tried shortening my stride a little bit and taking quicker steps and it seemed to help. I tried to relax the rest of my body proportionately to how fast I was trying to run; that seemed to help too. Repeat #3 finished in 8'12" and I no longer felt like I had cinder blocks for feet. Tired though.

I decided that 5 repeats would be a more realistic start of my speed training. It took me 9 minutes to finish mile #4 but I bounced back for #5 and finished in 7'46".

Clearly it takes different muscles, or uses the same muscles in a different way, to run "fast"--whatever "fast" means. So just practicing running faster will no doubt help over time. But I think there's some gear shifting I need to figure out how to do as well. I need more spin and less torque.

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