Thursday, May 5, 2016

Track training

Ah yes, another post.  I really do use this as mostly a very lazy training journal.


Might As Well Enjoy The View While I have It

I'm writing this from the dining area of The Postage Stamp, the prettiest tiny home in the city.  The view is really unbeatable, but both of us are feeling the urge to upgrade to a little more space.  Several friends are also house-hunting, either to rent or buy.  Tis the season!

I do love the view here.  It's high, and green, and the Cathedral is really amazing.  Oh sure, today, everything is grey, but I didn't live in both England and Eugene, Oregon for nothing.  I have a secret  deep love of grey days.  The sun comes back soon enough, and my transparent Irish skin appreciates not getting the living daylights burned out of it.

 Running Track, As Told By A Non-Runner

I am not a runner.  I am not built like a runner.  I don't have any natural running grace.  If I am ever in a group attacked by a bear, I will be the one who gets eaten by the bear while everyone else escapes.  You'll tell everyone I was the Hero Aunt Who Bravely Sacrificed Herself To The Bear.  But the truth is just that I am slow as molasses outside in January, before global warming.

Enter the DC Front Runners.  I'd seen them in Dupont Circle, gliding by on Saturday long runs while I waited in line for my bagel.  I thought they were a super elite team.  And it's true- most of them are Super Runners.  They are lean and fast and all you really see of them is a blue blur as they swish by.

They also host track workouts in the spring, and I had a crazy idea it might help me with the running.  So I've been learning to run track.  I've never, ever run track.

It involves warm ups of laps, and then sprints around a track.  I'm starting to learn about sprinting- like, at first, I thought it was about running all conversational*, and then I tried pacing other people and found they were huffing and puffing.  And I died horribly after the first lap because I just can't hold that pace**.  I hit my pacing bang-on, but I am stuck at one speed.  So I think my challenge will be to learn the difference between speeds- what does it feel like to sprint and to kick.

*When we do warm-ups, we do a few laps at a "conversational" pace.  That means you can still talk to someone as you run.  Yeah, let's all giggle a little hysterically right now.  

**I run in the Green group, which is the second-to-slowest.  So the accidental pacing I did, I was pacing the Yellow Group, which is the middle group.  I did that for one lap.  Now I just try to be in good spirits in the Dead-last Group.  

Oh, that's right.  I think I'm finally learning what a kick is.  They have us do drills where we kick our own butts- quite literally- and skip, and swing our arms.  And apparently, if you swing your arms and pick up your knees when you are tired, you break out of the "I'm tired" shuffle, and go faster.  That is a "kick", and it's highly prized at the end of the race when you want to win.

Actually, that is useful.  Because in a tri, or even a long race, when I get tired, I start to shuffle.  I don't pick up my feet well and sometimes my shoulders and back round down.  That's bad form, and actually hurts a lot more than spending the extra energy to just keep standing up straight.  Who knew? 

Last night, we did hills.  I actually don't mind hills.  I find them interesting, and frankly, EVERYTHING around me is a hill.  The best hills ever were the Eugene ones- the ones near my house, where I'd run up the hill until I was about to drop, then I'd turn around and jog just far enough down to catch my breath, then I'd turn around and keep charging up.  It was usually a mile or two straight up, and then a lot of miles down.

It's actually great for you.  And I actually really recommend the "run until you have to stop, then walk down a little, then run up again" method.  It's legitimately tough.  

Our runs were a little shorted, because our coaches forgot how to do addition, but they are nice guys so we don't mind.  And as one of the slowest runners in this group, it is psychologically awesome when you get to the coach and you are 25 seconds over your normal time!  Your higher functions- like addition and reasoning- have conked out because your body is screaming for air and your vision has tunneled to just the few feet in front of you and your legs are burning and you can't think of anything except "There's the coach and the ending!"  So you look at your watch and think, "DANG, I'm fast tonight!" and feel happy.

Much later, they will confess to shorting the course by accident, but the psychological high has already released the endorphins.  Too late, bros.