Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I thought I was in half-way decent shape, so I wasn’t too worried when I decided to do speedwork with a new (to me) group.  Running speedwork with a group is definitely better than solo.

What I didn’t take into account, was that I have a LOT more work to do.

The first 400 was my first clue I was in trouble.  Everyone else accelerated away from me within a couple steps off the line, and I was DFL, where I remained for the rest of the lap.

Our workout was a ladder: 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m, 1200m, 800m, 400m.  (400m = 1 lap, just in case you didn’t know)  You are supposed to run it around your 5K pace.  I haven’t done a 5k in ages, so I just chose a compromise between my GOAL 5k pace, and something that wouldn’t be TOO embarrassingly behind everyone else, but amazingly right at my goal 5K pace of about 6:00/mi.

The next interval was 800m, one of my favorite distances in high school.  I was determined not to DFL on this one.  On the backstretch, I surged a little, and got to somewhere mid to mid back of the pack, and hung on to finish with a 2:50 or so.  Made me feel better in one way, but that wasn’t too wise as far as being able to complete the workout.  The 1:30 rest period ended way too soon.

As soon as the 1200 started, I knew I was in trouble.  I faded early; I had no gas in the tank.  After one lap, Ryan, the coach, said just keep this one to 800.  That pepped me up, and I think I finished that one around 3:00 to 3:10, somewhere near the 6:00/mi pace I was working on.

Then the 1600 started, and when I saw everyone again drop me in the first few steps, I settled in for more torture.  Ryan again suggested I cut off a lap, to 1200m.  I was grateful, and again, hit my goal pace.

At the start of the 2nd 1200, I was used to the idea of cutting a lap, so I resolved to run it as an 800, without Ryan having to tell me.  I was starting to feel better with the shorter runs and more rest that cutting the laps was giving me.

At the last 400, I decided to finish on a good note, and not DFL.  On the backstretch, I turned on the “jets”, meager as they are, and got to somewhere in the middle of the pack before the final turn, and then held it to the end, in a 75 sec lap.  That’s about 15 seconds faster than I should have, but I was tired of being last, and I needed a psychological boost.

I know it’s probably kind of lame to detail an individual workout like this, but as it was the first real group speedwork on a track in almost 2 decades, this was a big day for me.

Hopefully, I will look back on this in a couple months, and laugh.

This does remind me of the benefit of running with people faster than you.  When I was in HS, I was having problems with my race times being not very impressive, so my coach did something sneaky.  He lied about my times to get me in the faster heats!  I was horrified!  But it worked.

My desire to not DFL was way higher than my desire to “win”.  By getting me into the “fast heat”, it had a stunning impact on my times.  I still finished in the middle, but I had to run way faster to do so.

I am hoping that training with these fast dudes and dudettes will have a similar effect on my training now.


  1. Good for you for admitting to your relative sluggishness compared to the pack; however, bear in mind that it is, indeed, relative. Your PRs are all better than mine (even though I AM a girl...) It definitely helps to train with folks faster than you, which is why I should come join your group, lol.

  2. Yeah you definitely need to keep in mind who exactly you were running with. There are a few people with 14:xx 5k PRs and sub 30 10k PRs. And the ladies are among the fastest in Maryland. There are days when I'll have an amazing workout and depending on who's there, I'll get smoked too.

    So never worry about being DFL - after all, it's just a workout - but be psyched about the benefits you're getting!

  3. Yeah, I know it's all relative. There are people who think I'm fast, I think TWSS is fast, and there are people who can smoke everyone at TWSS.
    In track workouts, I'd rather be the guy struggling to keep up with the back of the pack than the dude who is 5 to 10 seconds in front of everyone. I've been in both situations, and I definitely get more out of the workout if I have to struggle to keep up, vs coasting in front.