Last week I took 5 seconds off my personal best for 3000m but felt like I could have gone quicker. Under instructions from my coach not to throw away time in the first few laps of a race, I went out hard and hung on; my splits were 2:51, 2:54 and 2:57. Although this probably isn’t the optimal way of doing it I was pleased to have held on well after starting quickly. Having strength is reassuring given that my final two races of the season are a steeplechase and a 5000m. Despite leaving the race feeling like I could have knocked a few seconds off with better pacing, my overwhelming feeling was one of confidence in my fitness.
Monday: 10km easy (10)
Tuesday: AM 6km easy / PM Stretford Open 3000 – 15th in 8:42.21 (15)
Wednesday: AM 11km easy / PM 9km easy (20)
Thursday: AM 10km easy / PM drills and hurdles, grass session – mile, 2 miles, 2 miles off 3:00,5:00 – 5:01,10:11,10:11 (28)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: grass session – 10*60s hill reps, 4:00 tempo (14)
This is the post I hoped I’d be writing several years ago but its delay doesn’t make the experience any less sweet. Yesterday evening I broke 15 minutes for 5000 metres for the first time.
There is no heroic story about how I was dropped then rallied then just snuck under the barrier with a hard last lap. No one needed to scrape me off the track afterwards and I didn’t require any medical assistance. There was no fanfare or fuss and no cheering team mates. I just took the opportunity when it came and when I was in good shape, and ran even 72 second laps twelve and a half times.
I had a feeling I would do it after about four laps when a 4:48 mile tucked in at the back of a group felt too slow. My legs felt good. I went through 3000 metres in around 8:59 and knew I had enough in the tank and just needed to focus and not let the pace drop at all. What I can do is grind out a hard pace from a long way out; what I cannot do is make up 5 lost seconds on the last lap. On pace with 3 and then 2 laps to go, I knew I needed to keep pushing and that even then it would be incredibly close.
The clock ticked from 13:48 to 13:49 as I went through the bell. By this point I was hurting. I tried to stay calm and remind myself of all of the laps I have run in under 70 seconds in training and how this was just another one of those. I kicked as hard as I could down the back straight, trying to hold my form and remembering what Dave told me the other night about wasting energy by leaning backwards as I tire. I had 35 seconds to complete the last 200, a simple feat on most days but a tricky one given the strong headwind that had been blowing down the home stretch for the whole race.
Then nothing. I had no idea of my time as the finish line clock had stopped at 14:45 for the winner. I knew I had run a PB and also knew that it was very close to 15 minutes. I chatted to a few athletes I know and to someone else from my race who I had spent the first half of the race drafting behind. Fortunately BMC were quick with posting the results and the numbers were good.
This is why you enter meets with electronic timing. That would have been outside 15 minutes with a stopwatch so I felt vindicated in trying to do it at a race with proper timing. Not that I intend to cut it that fine next time.
The last item on my to do list has been crossed off. Now I just need to add a new one.
Monday: 8km easy (8)
Tuesday: AM 9km easy / PM BMC 1500, Tipton – 8th in 4:07.31 PB (17)
Wednesday: 12km easy (12)
Thursday: AM 9km easy / PM 8km easy (17)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: BMC Grand Prix 5000, Watford – 6th in 14:59.96 PB (11)
Last week I took my customary rest day on Sunday. To many, missing the Sunday long run is blasphemy, akin to not turning up to church (in a future post I may theorise about the similar roles that running and religion play in people’s lives but I am both typing this on a phone and desperately trying not to go off on a tangent) but I don’t care. I missed my long run this week but gained something more valuable, rest.
I’m away for a long weekend in the Lake District with my brother and dad celebrating his 60th birthday. My dad, that is, not my brother. With three heavy weeks of training banked and some races coming up I have taken the opportunity to enjoy a couple of easy days and to allow my body to absorb the training I have thrown at it in the hope that some of it sticks.
Monday: 16km easy (16)
Tuesday: AM 7km easy / PM track session 10*400 off 75 in 65-67, 4*200 off 200 jog (21)
Wednesday: AM 10km easy / PM 10km easy (20)
Thursday: AM 10km easy / PM track session 6*1000 off 200 jog in 2:57,57,56,56,58,56 (26)
I have done 51 parkruns now and yesterday was the quickest of the lot. I hadn’t planned a Saturday morning blast but felt good at the start and decided to test myself. Although 15:36 on its own is not a particularly spectacular 5k time and nowhere near my best, I was pleased to run a relatively quick time on tired legs in the middle of a 90 mile week before I had really woken up. My fitness is good at the moment and I am excited for the next couple of races.
Monday: AM 10km easy / PM 12km easy (22)
Tuesday: AM 10km easy / PM 16km tempo run 56:31 (28)
Wednesday: 17km easy, drills and hurdles (17)
Thursday: AM 9km easy / PM 17km moderate (26)
Friday: rest (0)
Saturday: AM parkrun in 15:36, strides / PM 9km easy (26)
This week, whilst idly waiting for the clock to tell me to leave for my latest cross country race I listened to Steve Magness’ latest podcast. This episode, entitled ‘Everything You Need to Know About the 5k’ was a fascinating conversation about preparing athletes to race 12.5 laps of the track. One of the most interesting comments made was to do with athletes’ tendency to want to have a great session a few days before a race as a confidence booster. However more often than not, they argue, the confidence boosting effect is negated by the damage, both physical and mental, that such sessions can do. The two coaches discussed some of their athletes’ best races and how the training that immediately preceded them was often unimpressive on paper. The real work came not days but weeks and months before the target race. The ‘going to the well’ sessions designed to create large adaptations were planned to take place at least 10 days before the race, with everything between then and race day a matter of maintaining fitness rather than trying to increase it.
I found this interesting as it echoes my own experience as an athlete, albeit one at a lower level than those described in the podcast. Maybe I need to stop looking for clues that I am going to race well in the days leading up to a race and trust that all the work done prior to that will pay dividends.
Yesterday I finished 13th in a Birmingham League race, my highest ever finishing position. It feels like the training I did a few weeks ago is starting to take effect!