I have had the pleasure of attacking two track workouts, yes two, in the past 6 days.
But the short version doesn't give you nearly enough gory details. So here goes.
Last Thursday was workout #1. I was nervous and excited. I was ready to GOGOGO and hit the goal times Jen set for me. They were Not easy targets but I'm always up for a good challenge. I did my easy warm up and prepared to run. It's a little ominous staring down the barrel at distances and paces that will require you to Instantly turn the body on to ZIP mode. Last year's training was tough. Most workouts entailed long grueling distances. 100 mile rides (my chance to say it again) in the rain, 20 mile runs, 80 mile rides with 7 mile runs. Those were tough workouts. But Track workouts--- these are a whole new kind of pain and suffering.
The track was busy that morning. Very busy. It was so busy and I was so distracted by the other 30+ folks milling around lanes 7 & 8 in a less than zippy manner that I decided to start at the opposite side of the track. So I packed up my water, gels, paper with the workout on it, and extra clothes and made a bee-line for the far corner. This workout required Concentration. A game face. I wasn't feeling the focus amidst all the others.
It was time to start. No matter how much I tried, I was unable to come up with any more reasons to stall. Somehow, I had to shift my body into 5th gear.
I had 2 sets and the 2nd was to be faster than the first. I had been advised to be "patient and PACE or else..." and then at the end of the workout I was told to throw the patience out the window and "GOGOGOGO!" Alrighty....I'll try!
First -- 1 mile --- sub 6:15. Um. Ok. That isnt' a very patient pace in my mind. Here goes!
I felt pretty bad. Legs weren't turning over quite yet. Last stretch...DIG.... Made it.
Time to rest while I kept moving.
800--- goal was sub 3:05. Here goes. Legs felt better. No problemo. Hey! pretty good.
Now 2 x 400s the instructions here were sub 1:30 I hit those too and was feeling good.
It was time to go through the ladder again. OH boy.
Mile again--- so painful. So long.
was leaning into the turns.... focus...form..... hold it together...go go go go go. The goal time was faster this time. Where's the line where's the line....done! 1 second to spare. Check.
Getting close. I kept moving between each run. I was able to lift my knees high to stretch out and to keep my body used to feeling light and fast. I was desperately tired...or so I thought.
800 time-- again , a faster goal. I had confidence now. While my legs were shaking and feeling heavier and heavier, I was on a roll. Around and around I went. I ignored all the others out there that day. I just ran and ran. And I ran hard.
4 seconds to spare. Yes.
And now the final 2 runs. 2 x 400. NO time goal. Just "what do you have?" ALL OUT! Let's see what you can do. Ok.....I was going all out!! Cracks me up...
Off I went.
Nailed it. 2 x400 Faster than the first and I called it a day. Success. Gotta love that.
I did a little warm down run, a little recovery ride and that was that. I felt good! Proud and Happy.
And then Friday rolled around. Ahhhh...there's that final 400. And that 2nd mile. And that 4th 800! My legs were a MESS!!!!
But hey, all I had to do was a 3 hr ride! What's the big deal right?
I struggled through that and realized just how fatiguing the year's first track workout can be. I was absolutely shot. I hobbled around, I wore my recovery socks, I ate a lot of protein, I rolled my legs with the roller and I wimpered when anyone would listen.
Coach Jen was happy with my run and declared, GOOD JOB! And we'll do it again Next week!!
woohoo!! I intend to have a tone of sarcasm there but the other sick part of me was actually happy to hear this. I Did want another one! I love those bad boys and I want to attack it again! Bring it on!
Little word of caution: Be careful what you wish for. We've all heard this before-- it applies to track workouts! watch out!
Today was my next chance to stare at those lanes again. To pick which orange line or yellow triangle would be my Start. It was my chance to fight the demons of doubt. Oh yes, I was very very doubtful for the past couple days. How am I going to do this track workout??? How am I going to nail these times? They're faster! My kids heard this a lot. They had no idea what I was really talking about (well, a little) but they listened and pretended to care.
Once again, I packed my little bag. I grabbed a pen and paper to record the times reliably. I had waters, a gel, a sweatshirt. That's it. No way to avoid it. It was time. Just go Ange. Drive to the track.
This workout was harder. It was harder and I dare say my legs were still not fully recovered. I older now and just as I've been told, one unavoidable consequence of that is that recovery time is longer. I am finally starting to believe that. I was trashed ALL weekend from last Thursday. But I couldn't think about that any longer.
Time to get tough.
Remember WHY I do all this. I have all my reasons tucked away in my head. They are good ones. At least they are good enough for me. And it's those reasons that fuel my fire when I have to dig really deep through a training session.
Warm up was done. My extra clothes were shed. I had a gel. I had water. That's it. Time to go.
This time I had 5 sets. Five. Cinq. Cinco. No matter how you say it--it was daunting.
800 / 400
Start at 3:00 and 1:24 and Descend.
400s are harder than 800s. 400s are ALL OUT!
ouch. Those are fast starts. Ok. Let's go!
800 -- I started running and all was ok. And then I hit the 400 and I realized I was breathing so so hard and I felt a little frantic. I was out of control. The discomfort of running super hard felt bad. My head was not accepting the pain.
I had a talk with myself. It's time to be ok with hurting. You need to let yourself breath heavy and let it just happen. Dont' fight it.
under 3. Check. Woah. Hang on legs. You have a ways to go.
400 under 1:24. how am I going to do that 4 more times and Faster????
Next 800. Same time. Ok. not bad.
400 same time. I was hanging on but I was hurting.
When I got to the 3rd 800 things got real. I was suffering Big time. I was incredibly nauseous. My legs were not my own.
As I moved around and around in those circles I forced myself to focus on my form at times. I had to concentrate to lean forward because I seemed to be comfortable leaning back...there was a headwind on one side and I was letting it push me back.
I would bring myself into the moment and think about my running. PUSH The pain back and just run. Faster -shorter strides for one and then longer-more powerful strides another time. Which was better? Lean forward, push push push your arms -- my old track coaches voices were in my brain.
I dug back into my old HS track days. Just run run run run run HARD! There was NO time to let my pace fall back. If you let off for just a bit -- you miss your time. It's that unforgiving. As Jen said, there is no hiding on the track. It's all right there. You must run until you drop. That's it.
I got through the final few sets. After the 800s, I thought I might collapse. No. I was sure I would collapse. I grabbed the fence and buckled over to breath. I walked around, stretched, and prepared to go again.
I thought I fought through the suffering at last week's workout. And I did...but today was much much harder. But you know, I did it.
I hit most of the goals and walked away knowing that I gave it ALL that I had. When I headed down the final 100 of the 400s, I was ready to fall over. I wanted to slow down. How Easy it would be to just. slow. down.
Instead, I reached inside, decided I didn't Care if I Did throw up (which was a serious possibility) or if I collapsed and I found another gear.
I didn't slow down. I sped up. I ran until I dropped. Literally. I finished 400 #5 and I just dropped down.
You know what though?
I'm 40 now. Some look at that age and think it's time to start slowing down. After all, 40! You know...when people supposedly get old!
Ha...I will never, for one single minute, let my age stop me.
I just might need to rest a little more in between. :o)