Yesterday, Jen and I hit up the Peak Performers Track Club here in Anchorage. They meet every Tuesday at 6pm at the West High track, which is super convenient for us, living only a short distance away. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how the stumps were going to respond. Having taken two days off over the weekend, I expected some fresh legs for my Monday morning run. Instead, I found they were heavy, stale, and in a foul mood. I did some pickups at the end of my morning run in an effort to invigorate my legs, but I didn’t see a big improvement after running home, making Monday a 13M day in total. Yesterday morning, I ran the long way into work (~10.25M). Again, I felt sluggish.
Jen and I got to West just in time for the Coach’s Brief . Peak Performers starts every workout the same way – the coaches brief (yesterday it was Jason Hofacker) the workout, then everyone does 800m of drills, plyometrics, and sprints. Following this, folks split into similar pacing groups and begin the workout. Being new, and not sure of what to expect, I enjoyed the warmup section. I’m a big believer in warmups that combine easy cardio as well as some faster, more powerful stuff; I’ve always felt like simply running a couple of miles easy before a track workout makes the first couple of intervals feel pretty rough. The warmup led to the workout: 12 x 400m with 45s rest, but the workout was scaled based on current fitness. Folks training less at this time did 7 x 400 (Jen did this), more training meant more quarters.
To be honest, the short recovery period came as a bit of a shock. When I trained in Tucson with Michele Hill and The Grinders, short recoveries were par for the course. But training with Matthew Whitis, I got more used to 200m jog recoveries and the like. 45s was the shortest recovery I have done in some time. So, with that in mind, I told Jen to start slow and work into it, and hoped she would end up in a group that helped her along. As for me, I figured if I started around 85s (5:40 pace) and eased into it; that would be the most prudent course of action. Workouts like this have a way of goading you into writing checks your body can’t cash. Before you know it, you’re going way too hard, barely recovering, and you’re not even a third of the way through the entire workout. That makes for a long session…
I laced up my track spikes, and got ready to start the workout. Mike, the guy I ran hills with last week, joined me but let me know he was going to keep it tame due to some lower leg issues. It was a little blustery out, but the temps were low-50s, the perfect running temp. The first interval was nice and relaxed – 86s. I was able to talk during the interval and it felt good to be out in my spikes, stretching my legs. The next one was a tad bit faster: 83s (5:32 pace). Then 82s (5:28 pace), then 81 (5:24 pace). When I run intervals, I learned a technique years ago to make the workout more mentally palatable. I break the intervals into mental sets. So, for 12 x 400, I think of running sets of 4. I start with #1, end at #4, then start over at #1. Repeat until finished. Even thought the workout might not delineate between sets, it helps me mentally stay on track and breaks the workout down into bite-sized pieces. After the first four yesterday, I could tell I was still approaching the sweet spot.
The rest of the workout went like this: 81s, 79s, 79s, 80s, 78s, 79s, 79s, 79s, 76s. If you counted those up and arrived at 13 as opposed to 12, you’d be correct. I ran one extra by accident. Lucky 13!
So, you can see my equilibrium point was right around 79s (5:16 pace), which actually surprised me given how little speed work I’ve done since Oct, and how heavy I am right now (184lbs). I’m hoping this means I’m closer to my goals for the season (sub 17 5k, sub 35 10k) than I give myself credit for, but only racing can determine where my fitness truly resides.
In case you were wondering, Jen killed her workout. She ran with some ladies who were throwing down just under 2:00 quarters (sub-8:00 pace). Not bad for not having run much over the winter, I’d say!
Overall, it was a great workout, and I never really noticed my legs much. Even though I ended up running solo (Mike dropped back to a slower group after the third interval), it was great just having some other folks out there on the track. It also didn’t hurt that Jen was out there as well, and I love running with my wife.
Alright, that’s it for now. I need to get my butt out the door and off to work. Miles!