I love a track workout. I always have, which is kind of funny when you consider that I am a long distance plodder and not a short distance speedster. (But maybe I need to rethink this, as all my awards are at the 5K and 10K distance. So far, at least.)
Back when I first began training, my beloved coach Andreas emphasized track practice. Every Wednesday night, we had work on the track. Not like some coaches, who will call it all “speed work” and send you out on the road to do some stuff, but real, dedicated work on the track: 400s, 800s, lots and lots of 1,000m repeats during marathon training, and ladder drills of all types and sizes.
Our workouts also started a lot later than many of the other groups, so we were often out there in the dark. I never looked at my workout prior to getting there…if I did, I would obsess and think, “I can never run that time!” If I didn’t look, I just had to do what I had to do when I showed up. Somehow, that was easier.
I was the slowest person in the group — and there were some fast people in that group, people I just tried to only let lap me once or so. There was such a feeling of cameraderie; we were all in it together, sharing in one another’s accomplishments and defeats.
We did relays a lot, which were super fun (and I was never picked last, which always surprised me and made me love everybody all that much more). Lots of 2- and 3-mile time trials. They were tough workouts. I’d come home wiped out and yet pumped up. That is just such a great feeling. I can’t adequately put words to it — you either love that or you hate it, or you’ve never really known it. No gray areas.
Over the years, I’ve put together my own track workouts which I’ve enjoyed just as much. Mac Allen puts together fabulous track workouts. But I haven’t had a group or a coach interested in working on the track with any regularity or focus since 2004, nor have I had the time or energy to put together one on my own.
Getting Back on the Track
My friend Marcia invited me to do track work with her and a friend, starting yesterday. I showed up at the Murchison track, heart pounding with excitement. Marcia and I warmed up together. Since it had been so long (and I’ve had so much going on with my body) plus I’d already I had an easy (though lengthy) trail run in the morning, I opted to do 4×400 repeats. An easy start back into things.
Ah, dear me, I creaked and groaned and plodded through those: 2:00, 2:11, 2:17, 2:17. Ouch. I flashed back to me and Tracy, laughing one night because we’d been told to run our 400s easy — no faster than 2:00 — and we’d done 1:45s, commenting, “I can’t do my 400s that slow!” I have notes where I was supposed to do my 2-mile repeats at 7:50 mile pace. I just chuckled last night. It felt good to be out there, and it felt wonderful to be going through the motions. Time be damned!
It was heaven to come home with that feeling. I’m so looking forward to doing this each week. And, having been reminded of how much I love it, should something come up and this group peters out, I’ll focus on putting together my own group. This is something I need to do, something that makes me love running. And I have every confidence in the world that, as I do this thing I love, the speed will come back.
It’s still there — I know it.