Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of Speed Work - trying not to fall over

One of the tunnels on the west side of Rim Rock Drive

Our family has had a really busy spring and summer with a new addition and all, but things are settling down, and, more importantly, Grandma has come to spend a few weeks to help with the kids during back to school time.

Now that I can eek out a few minutes free each day for a workout (and not solely at 5:30 am) I've begun thinking about training for a race again.  I may try to do the Rim Rock Marathon again this November.  It's a fun, beautiful race that traverses one of the most beautiful roads in the US -- over the Colorado National Monument right here in Grand Junction.  There's a lot of downhill in the race, so I'll need to do some good prep work for that  -- perhaps I'll head out to Ouray again for the Ouray Mountain Run.

View from the road on the CO Nat'l Monument, in the valley floor below is GJ

One aspect I always try to work in a healthy diet of no matter how long my race distance is going to be is speed work on the track.  There's something about track work that I love -- maybe it's just the precision of it all which helps you really see your progress week to week.  It's often painful, but there's more to it than just working hard.

I was reminded of this last week at my first track session.  I often start the first day with just some up-tempo 800s.  I'm not sprinting them, and I only did 4 repeats (with a jogging 400 rest between each), but what I was struck by was how difficult it is to balance.  When I start running faster again, I tend to still land on the same place of my foot, which  for me is somewhere from the middle of my arch to about an inch behind the ball of my foot, but moving quicker makes keeping my body position over my feet that much more of a challenge.  Sometimes I feel really good and coordinated, but much of the time I feel like I'm about to fall over.

The more I run at the track, the more this goes away, though, and my body begins to feel where it needs to be balanced at all times.  The best part is that once I get this balance down, then even my slower-paced running feels more effortless.  I have more powerful and sync'd arm swing, my spine is straighter, and I "feel" like I'm landing with less impact.  I know some of this is improving fitness and running economy, but I think the increase in coordination plays a big role as well.

We'll see how the next few weeks go -- I'll post more about how I determine what intervals I'm going to use (for myself or an athlete I'm training), and how to organize your speed sessions.

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