Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Speed - A Different Approach

At this time of year a few things all come together to make the track a very crowded place. With the time change and the onset of warmer spring weather, the local dirt track becomes as crowded as a Weight Watchers meeting or the 24 Hour/LA Fitness the first week after New Years. Last week I didn't really enjoy dodging the walkers and weaving back and forth among the joggers (as if I'm some kind of pro runner but anyway, you know what I mean).

This week for my speed work I decided to head over to the bike trail at the Santa Fe Dam my once a week after work run destination. The trail is marked every half mile. I decided to do half mile intervals with an easy half mile in between. That may be a little too long between the speed (I don't really know) but it was the easiest to measure.

After a mile of easy warm up, I start into my first half mile. At first I was thinking this is going to be hard. At least at the track I have a clue as to how far I still have to go. Four straight aways and four corners and time to slow down. Here on the trail I had to keep my eyes peeled for the little 8-inch numbers spray painted in the middle of the trail. Finally I see the first marks, hit the watch and look: 3:19 - Whoa, where did that come from.

I took the next half mile easy, then its off again. At least at this interval I know where the mark is because its just after a big yellow water pipe on the side of the trail. I passed the little guard shake where the man collects the entrance fees to the park and kept my eyes focused on the yellow pipe. I felt like I couldn't keep going. I even closed my eyes for a couple of seconds but opened them up because I didn't want to run one step more than necessary. The second half mile was 3:21 - Fairly consistent but it was still early in the game.

Another half mile easy. I met another runner going the other way, we both waved. I reached the 3 mile turn around point and started back up with the speed. I'm headed back toward the yellow pipe. This half is very slightly uphill and into the breeze. I begin to gain ground on the runner that I had just waved to. He heard me coming and turned around to see what was going on. I got back to the yellow pipe before I completely caught up to him. The third half: 3:25 - This half actually felt the most relaxed and easy.

Another half mile easy and off again for 3:26 - Getting a little slower but not drastically so; at least that's what I tell myself.

Another half mile easy. During this half mile I know that I have the opportunity to do one more speed half and still have a half left to cool down. The mental battle begins: I could just take the whole mile and a half as a cool down. Five halves - 2.5 miles of speed work is more than I've ever done. I know, kind of wimpy in the speed department. Five halves - I never done more than 3 halves with a few 400's thrown in for good measure. I've got a 21 miler this weekend, will this have a negative effect there, blah, blah, blah. I get to the half mile marker and decide to get on with it, suck it up. A real speed guy could run half mile repeats all day without breaking a sweat, at least without thinking about it. The fifth half: 3:38 - Oops slowed down, but I really don't think I could have mustered much more.

In the final analysis, I think I enjoyed this method a whole lot better than the crowded dirt oval. And I'm really glad I pushed on through to the fifth half.

One of the coolest things about this run is that I ran into Abel during my mile warm up. Last summer when Celeste, Brian and I were training for the NYC Marathon we ran a lot on the dam. We would see this guy nearly every day. Finally one day Celeste and I were done with our run, we waited for him and introduced ourselves. As it turns out he was training for NYC, too. How cool is that. With the time change and the resulting early darkness we stopped running the dam trail before the marathon and we lost touch with Abel. This year Abel hadn't been out on the trail. I had seen him at the LA marathon when my son and I volunteered, but I only got to talk to him briefly. He was kind of busy. But today, we stopped and talked for 10 minutes or so. We made tentative plans to meet up on the trail for some runs in the future. That would be very cool indeed.

10 comments:

matt said...

very impressed with the consistency on your halves, darrell. sounds like you have a better place for your speedwork now. have a great 21-miler this weekend. i am trying to get together with jeff and jess in a couple of weekends for a 20+ miler, the last one before my trail marathon on june 3rd. i am looking forward to meeting up with you some time soon. we should try to get together as a group and do some of your favorite runs.

PLANET3RRY said...

The trail is marked every half mile. I decided to do half mile intervals with an easy half mile in between. That may be a little too long between the speed (I don't really know) but it was the easiest to measure.

Yassos... and no... another 1/2 mile is not too long.

21 miler... have fun!

Anne said...

I like the attitude you have about intervals on the track -- just four straightaways and four turns. I may have to use that technique to get me through some of them. Occasionally, I do the same thing and go to an asphalt trail to do intervals. My times aren't nearly as good as yours were yesterday, though. Nice job, Darrell.

Donald said...

That's a pretty good workout you did there. I never worry about speed work draining my legs for a long run - that just makes the long run more effective.

PLANET3RRY said...

you inspired me to do the same workout, but I spoke incorrectly... you did 800m intervals NOT Yassos. The technicality is that your recovery run is a slow paced run the same time that is took your 800m, which should correspond to a distance less than 800m. e.g. if you are trying for a 3:45 marathon, you run 800m in 3min 45sec... your recovery run is 3 min 45 seconds NOT 800m

jeff said...

great work, darrell. doing those intervals on the road better simulates race conditions. it'll be fun to talk speed work on saturday! still trying to figure out the best logistics for the run...

Joe said...

great post, great consistency!

Robb said...

Speed work, as we've both discussed, is a necessary evil. You've got it! And, that inner struggle where you try and talk yourself out of the last 1/2...I'm there with you. I'm forever trying to make a deal with myself. The best part of speed work is finishing it, and that's just what you did. You've got a great attitude Darrell.

A few months ago, I would not have believed that speed work would help me. Me?? Nah, not me! I was mistaken. I believe! I believe in you buddy. Keep it up!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

sounds great!

Rae said...

Great job with the speed!!! I love that you guys stopped to meet a new runner, Brent and I need to do that more often!