Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Hearing the wind buffeting against the side of the house this morning was a bit unsettling, but nonetheless I drove out to my usual parking spot at the strip mall to get my track workout in. Today the plan included a 2000 meter effort, hopefully run with even splits around 75, then the same distance at an easy pace. Finally, I would finish the workout with 4-6 x 200 strides, with a 200 jog in-between.

The wind was pushing across the track at an angle, and after warming up for an easy 4 miles it was apparent that conditions just weren't going to get better. I pushed on the gas and breezed through the first 200 at 36, and since I was out of the wind for much of it I felt great. However, as I got halfway through the second turn the wind really became apparent. This is where I messed up. I kept pushing harder towards the line in hopes of making the split, even though it meant forcing things harder than I should have. I was right on pace with a 75, and soon enough I was out of the wind again and cruising down the backstretch. When I hit the wind a second time I actually felt a little weakened, but instead of focusing on running relaxed again I pushed through and got my stupid 75. On the third lap I started regretting this wasn't an 800, and I could feel my forearms tingling from clenching my fists so tight (score one for Abadabajev here). I wasn't relaxed, and a 38 at the 200 showed I was slowing down. A third push into the wind in hopes of getting back on pace cost me as my breathing got ahead of me, and the high 1:16 showed I was falling off pace. I finally tried to put myself more upright in an effort to get the legs centered under me, but midway through the fourth lap I could feel the muscles start to burn, and I started thinking about having to survive the last 400. When I hit the split I was at 5:05 for four laps, and the 1:17 here was a bit depressing. The last lap in 1:16 found me flailing a bit for the last 150, but it was over.

On a windy day like today I should have focused on just running fast and relaxed instead of gunning for goal time. It's hard though, as there is definitely a psychological edge from the resulting confidence of running fast workouts. Running the three 800's earlier last week at 4:50 pace helped me believe that I could hold 5:08 pace for 5000 meters. I think what I need to focus on instead is how relaxed I can make myself feel while doing these reps while still covering ground quickly.

After jogging for another 2K I had a second chance with the 6x200 strides, and I took the opportunity to run them on the side of the track that gave me most of the wind at my back. I slowly accelerated to full speed, tried to bring my legs under me, and pushed off forcefully with each stride while trying hard to stay relaxed all the while. I thought about the 3000 meter race I had watched the night before on tape of the USATF indoor championship. I was rooting for Matt Tegenkamp, mostly because at 6'2" and 150 pounds he looked like a fish out of water when compared to the rest of the whippets on the starting line. When the race started to heat up he made a move to the front and simply would not let up. Watching a guy with that big a frame tap along, all the while looking very relaxed at the front of the group with a championship on the line was inspiring. When the commentators started to speculate about whether Tagenkamp or Jonathon Riley (who was right behind in second place) would win, they didn't speak of PR's or leg speed. Instead they talked about how much more relaxed Tagenkamp looked while cruising at speed. Needless to say, Tagenkamp won the championship. Here he talks about his 13:04 5K PR race a few weeks before, where he finished second to Bernard Lagat.

While I wish I had been able to run faster this morning, I know I won't get there by muscling my way to hitting splits. I have a few weeks to get used to running fast and relaxed before the meet, and hopefully I can learn to focus more on those elements during that time. I think the coach is following a good pattern by starting me out with shorter reps, as it's much easier to learn to run relaxed if you end the interval before digging yourself into too much of an anaerobic hole. The 2K today proved that I still have some work to do at staying cool when things start to burn.

Training: 10 miles, w/2K at 75, 75, 76, 77, 76 (2K), then 6x200 accelerations around 35-36 seconds


Abadabajev said...

Very nice 75, 75, 76, 77, 76. I'm impressed.

Running relaxed is so easy to say yet so difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice. You didn't mess up. You're learning.

Lawrence said...

Good workout, despite the wind.

I pulled a 75 for my first 400 yesterday during a 3K TT and it wrecked me......

Patrick said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with the "relaxed" thinking. Always a good read Mike.