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Tempo runs

As I feared, this morning's easy 5km run, after two days of light running and two days off to rest my sore right arch, was inconclusive.  I didn't feel the minor burning pain after half a kilometre or so, as earlier in the week, but it didn't feel 100% either.  As I warmed up during the run, I moved more freely and felt better.  There remained some minor discomfort in the arch, although it's not as bad as earlier in the week.

Later in the day, I went for a 5km walk with the same result.  No real pain, but a sense of warmth, and maybe inflammation, in the arch.  It's hard to know what's best.  Maybe a slow build up in mileage would make most sense, but I also don't want to waste more training time if it has repaired enough to resume normal training.  Tomorrow is the annual Terrigal Trotters Handicap 10km Time Trial, which provides the chance for a fast run, something I need.

Hard runs at speed form an important, and often shirked, part of a training program.  I find it difficult to do these tempo, or speed endurance, runs solo (though many do).  I have always found it easiest, and most effective, to run fast with a group.  The competitive juices flow and there's peer group pressure to hang in there when the going gets tough.  In the various clubs I have belonged to over the years, in Australia and the UK, there has usually been a weekday evening tempo run of 15 to 20 kilometres.  We all head out at a modest sociable clip, but finish at virtual race pace.  For a few years, my club's (Kew Camberwell) Tuesday 15 kilometre evening run from Olympic Park in Melbourne was a classic.  Below is an edited copy of an article I wrote for the Club's May 1980 Newsletter about the run.


The clicking of the turnstiles is answered by the clicking of the wristwatches as the runners file out of "the Park".  The first "hurdle" is encountered almost immediately.  The runners dash twixt rush hour commuter cars across Batman Avenue.  Ken baulks and misses a gap, losing 50 metres immediately (he "hates this ******* course!").  The main pack moves on towards Anderson Street hill with Ken almost catching us before he misses the lights at Alexandra Avenue and loses another 50 metres (he "hates this ******* course!").  The pace picks up as we ascend the hill with Andy making the running and occasionally expectorating on the pack to make sure they kept their distance.  This occasional shower for the following runners usually elicits some good-natured comment from Pratty such as "Do you want a punch in the face, Andy?".  Undeterred, Andy presses on.  Ken catches the bunch.  At the top of the hill, those who are already finding the pace a bit hot announce that they "were only going to do track training tonight, anyway" and continue around The Tan back to the Park where they do something easier like 20 X 300 metres in 45 seconds with 100 metre recoveries.

Some members of the Kew Camberwell distance squad
 at Olympic Park, Melbourne, in 1977.
(l. to r. JB, me, Kev, Dicky, Rod, Ray and Ken)
The pack heads off towards Fawkner Park at an ever-increasing rate with Greg now sitting on Andy's shoulder and Stan covering them both. JB and Pratty, at the back of the pack, chat nostalgically about the good old days when training pace never exceeded six-minute miles.  Ken gets caught again by the traffic at Toorak Road (he "hates this ******* course!").  We skirt the edge of Fawkner Park with everybody making sure everybody else runs around the correct trees.  Greg is really starting to push the pace a bit now. Andy spits on Pratty again - more good-natured banter.  Everybody is psyching themselves up for the next big obstacle: St Kilda Road - four lanes of traffic trams and traffic lights.  You can see Ken sweating in anticipation.  With much whooping and hollering, we dash across.  Brakes squeal, tram drivers curse and we all make it - except for Ken (he "hates this ******* course!") who loses 50 metres.  We cross Queens Road in similar fashion and encounter a new obstacle: Albert Park Golf Course in the pitch darkness.  Those who don't run into trees, fall into bunkers, trip over raised greens or drown in ponds, build up a good lead by the time we reach the Lake.

The Lake is a dangerous place.  Dangerous because Ken makes way for no man, as a number of cyclists on the bike path will testify.  Heading north along the western side through the hockey fields the pace is really on.  Greg and Andy are striding out.  Conversation has dropped to a minimum and the only sounds are heavy breathing (particularly Cashy) and the monotonous click of Stan's ankle.  A few fences are encountered and JB's steeple-chasing skills get him a 20 metre break, though this is quickly made up as he swerves to avoid being clobbered by the backswing of an overzealous hockey player.  We round South Melbourne Cricket Ground and run along Albert Road towards the Shrine.  Moves are coming from everywhere.  Stan makes a break up the service road with Dave in hot pursuit.  Ray, under cover of darkness and trees, moves up on the inside.  Fortunately, Ray's break is halted by a red light (traffic variety) at Queens Road and we all catch up.

A good position is vital now, as we have to negotiate several major roads before the long surge northwards along St Kilda Road.  Ken gets caught again and loses another 50 metres (he "hates this ******* course!").  The race is really on now with Dave, Pratty and Ray pushing to get to the front, and JB and Andy attempting to block.  Andy spits on Pratty again, and receives a good-natured tap on the shoulder that nearly knocks him over.  There are more pedestrians around now and quick thinking is called for.  Cashy nearly runs Dave into a traffic light and is then, in turn, steered into a post by Dave as we round Princes Gate Station.  It's on for young and old.

Dave puts on the pressure along Flinders Street, but is nearly fouled out by a rather stout Italian lady who steps sideways at a critical moment.  Ken is getting scared - a missed traffic light now and he knows he won't recover.  Pratty's crossed the road and piles it on.  Cashy, JB, Ray, Stan and Andy settle back to a leisurely 5:30 pace whilst Dave and Ken chase Pratty.  Ken misses the light (he "hates this ******* course!").  Has Pratty made his move too soon?  Self doubt takes over as Dave comes up to his shoulder and they race up the Lansdowne Street hill.  At the top, Dave eases off, but Pratty doesn't and surges past - the race isn't over yet.....