More fast running was on the docket this week as I headed to the track to test the fast twitch fibers, and re-awaken the ones which are dormant (all of them?) The plan called for 12x400m with a range of 76-79 seconds. Recovery was a 200m slow jog- which came out to 60 seconds.
The workout began with strides and 2x200's at 34 seconds to loosen up and awaken the proper areas of the brain. Going into repeat #1 the legs were heavy, the knees too high, the shoulders too tense. I could sense I was running stressed, not free and easy. I was getting in my own way. Number 1: 77 seconds.
Number two was better, backed off the urgency but still felt like I was rushing myself and trying to complete the entire 400m in one giant step. Ended up running more evenly and right at 77 sec again. The 3rd was decent- stayed back, still more relaxed and smooth; hitting 77 again.
After 6 of the 12 each right at 77 seconds, I was feeling pretty worked from the intensity or the new workload- more proof that those fast twitch fibers need some convincing- which is why I was there, and will continue with this type of work for a few weeks at least. Given that I was about to fall apart I made a command decision on the fly. Full recovery and then run a second set of speed work.
Just not another 6x400m. I dedided to break the final 1.5 miles up into an 800m at 5k pace (2:40) and a mile to finish at half marathon pace (5:50). This would be a great chance to learn a couple of race paces with tired legs resulting from new intensity, while still feeling fresh aerobically.
These paces felt like a snail crawl- which is the point as well. Soon enough though- the burn returned in the second half of each repeat. 800m completed in 2:41 (80, 81). After equal recovery I set out for the mile at goal race pace for my Thanksgiving half marathon... shooting for 5:50.
After running 77's per quarter to start during the 400's, then 80's for the half mile, these 88 second laps felt almost like cheating. Like I said though- give it a minute or two. Reaching 800m on the mark, I began to push a little bit more and shaved about one second of the pace through 1200m. Then this pace began to catch up. The strength was still there though and in the spirit of my first (abbreviated) 400m workout in years, I went for it over the final 300m! That 50 seconds was exhiliratingly painful! The mile time was 5:40... and I was spent.
Overall the workout was a bit dissapointing. Not because of any times, those come around with the right approach and consistency. What lingers from this workout was the stress I was carrying into my run.
Had I taken a few minutes to calm down, the workout would have been more in line with the goal, race preparation, not only through physical fitness. It was not a waste- the legs surely received their motivation to turnover more powerfully next time, but the engine behind those legs begins in a calm mind.
I know how I run best, I know how to get there and today's blockage was a result of laziness- believing I could just force my way through this feeling of anxiety...
With maturity, every baseball pitcher knows the best way to battle a big swinger is to take a little off- to try easier. To let the opponent get himself out. Bravado works in Little League.