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Where has my speed gone

Thursday, 20 June 2013

I was quite anxious about today's running because I had scheduled my first track training session for a couple of years.  I believe the biggest obstacle to running a sub-3 in October will be my speed, not my stamina, assuming I get there uninjured.  As I have aged, my stride length has shortened and I have lost flexibility and anaerobic capacity.  My plan to overcome this deficiency is to run more shorter races and include a track session a week.  Assuming I can do both of these, my ability to sustain the necessary speed will improve.  The reason for my anxiety today was that, in the last ten years, whenever I have decided to include a track session in my weekly program, I have only lasted a couple of weeks before succumbing to injury.  I'm hoping that by running repetitions of no less than 800 metres, I won't reach the speeds that risk injury, but it will be a fine line.

I used to be faster on the track.  On my way to a PB 14:26
for 5000m at Olympic Park, Melbourne, in March 1977
The day started with supervision of the regular Thursday morning track session at The Haven in Terrigal, and I followed that with an easy 6km run during which I felt quite comfortable, though my right knee and Achilles were a bit painful.

Around 4:30pm, I started my second training session for the day with a 3km warm-up around Adcock Park in Gosford, followed by a few drills on the mediocre grass track.  After marking out my 800m start in lane 3 on the damp track, I began my session of five 800m repeats with a three minute recovery between each.  Ideally, I want to build up to ten repeats averaging between 2:50 and 3:00.  I knew I would find today hard, and I was right.  The kebab I had for lunch at the mall came back to haunt me, just to make matters worse.  The first 800 was in 3:13 and I felt awkward all the way.  My right calf and hamstring felt tight and I could hear my bad knee clicking with every step.  The remaining 800's were all between 3:05 and 3:10.  I tried not to think about how this was slower than 6 minute mile pace (3:45 mins/km), the speed at which I used to run my regular Wednesday night 20 miler (32km) in my heyday.

I finished the session with another easy 3km and decided that the rough damp grass track was not a good surface for an old guy like me to train on.  The soft surface provided little support, leading to more strain on calf muscles and knees.  For next week's session, I will try to find a flat section of quiet road and use Google Maps to identify an exact 800m.  I think I will feel more comfortable on the road.