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Thursday, January 26, 2012


Sometimes it helps to have someone yelling at you.

It's one of many coaching strategies that has been used on me throughout my history of sports. I've had coaches who yelled and screamed until the veins in their forehead popped and they'd made their own children cry. I've had gently encouraging coaches that jumped up and down to celebrate every second that I conquered. I've even had a few who would give us our instructions and pretty much ignore us from there.

The one that seemed to work best for me was my senior year of track. After years of mediocre improvement in my various events, we got a new coach my senior year (our third in four years). For the first time in my track career, I had a coach who didn't scream. I'd grown used to echoed yelling bouncing off the trees around the crappy cinder track behind our high school, and now our practices were much quieter. The act of running was more zen than it had ever been, and suddenly I could focus.

That is, I could focus most of the time. My problem came on speed work days.

See, my general plan when it came to racing was what I called "Tail and Burn." I'd get in right behind the first place runner and use him to pace me through most of the race. In the last 200 or so meters, I'd kick into a higher gear, hopefully out-sprinting my competition. It was great physically and psychologically, and it was actually a highly successful strategy, as long as I had someone to follow.

If I accidentally ended up in first too early in the race, or couldn't tuck in behind someone close enough, I had major issues keeping any kind of constant pace. And when we would have speed work practice, I had the same issue. There's a line between sprint and run that I've never been able to nail down, and I'd always burn myself out too early in the workout. It was on those days that I could have used a little volume from my coaches.

Of course, I didn't realize all of this at the time. It's only now, looking back, that I see what I really needed. I wasn't as driven as I should have been, and it allowed me to slack off. Today, I'm a far more dedicated runner than I ever was during my competitive years, and I wish I'd found this dedication earlier.

I also wish I could still have a coach. On my 7th quarter-mile repeat today, I felt myself burn out. I'd been flying thus far, but knew that I wouldn't have the strength to keep up the smoking pace I'd set. When I ran my 8th, it was a full 2 seconds slower than anything else I'd done. Part of this was the car I had to avoid, but most of it was a lack of motivation. I needed someone to keep me on pace and make me hit my mark. It's a level of mental toughness I have yet to achieve.

But I guess that's why we train.

Thursday's Workout:
2x(4x400, 1:30 Rest Between)
1:05     1:07
1:04     1:06
1:05     1:08
1:05     1:10

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