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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Target Practice

"As fast as you can" is not a workout speed.

Unless you're competing in a 100 meter dash, giving every ounce of energy is not a productive way to run a race, which makes the phrase "speed work" a bit misleading. The idea behind doing speed work should be running faster than usual over a consistent frame of time. It took a movie to remind me of that.

I can't possibly understand how Netflix chooses the movies that its algorithm believes I will enjoy, but I'll always take a few seconds to see what they're recommending. A while ago, the program decided that I enjoyed underdog movies (who doesn't?), so it gave me "Saint Ralph." It's about a 14-year-old Canadian boy who decides that winning the Boston Marathon will be the miracle his mother needs to get well. It's part Rudy, part Billy Elliot, and thoroughly enjoyable.

At one point, the kid is running mile repeats, and the point of his workout is to maintain his pace from one to the next. I had sudden flashbacks to coaches yelling "Too fast!" in the middle of 400 workouts. I remembered that the point of doing those workouts wasn't simply to run my muscles to exhaustion, but to develop a cadence in my step, a rhythm in my breath, and focus on my form. We didn't run each one as fast as we could. We tried to run a lot of them at the same (quick) time every time. This morning, I tried to do my speed work correctly.

Instead of pushing myself as hard as possible on my repeats, I gave myself a goal time, which was a couple seconds slower than my average the last couple weeks. My theory was that slowing down the first few quarter miles will make the later ones easier to run. Turns out I was right. For once. So much so, that I added a mile of work to my morning.

Four months from today, I'll be running the streets of South Bend, Indiana, shooting for my Boston Qualifier once again. Every time I work on speed, I'm taking huge strides to get there, but it's not all about speed. It's about being consistent. Doing the same thing over and over again as regularly as I can and keeping my ambition in check while I slowly, carefully build.

It'll be my own private little miracle.

Thursday's Workout:
3x(4x400, 1:30 Rest)
1:13     1:10     1:10
1:10     1:08     1:07
1:10     1:09     1:08
1:10     1:08     1:08
10 Minute Yoga Basics

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