As of last night, I’m back on track. Literally.
My running in the past six months hasn’t been the best. I struggled through sickness, and my monthly mileage dropped to the lowest it’s been in three years.
But for the past three months, I’ve rebuilt my base. November was a breakthrough running month in a lot of ways, and the first week of December brought an incredible overall running week. I topped out my mileage and had several strong workouts.
Still, there’s been something missing since early April: strong track workouts.
I know that difficult track sessions and speedwork played a giant role in my Boston qualifying marathons in January and February. But after cracking the three hour barrier, I dropped off the track. Even with a great crew to run with each Wednesday morning in Shreveport, I either didn’t show up, or I wasn’t well enough to run my best.
I’ve been invited to a similar Wednesday morning track workout at UCSD here in San Diego. The similarities are striking. The group features strong runners who will challenge me. San Diego’s track runners also start their Wednesday morning repeats at 6 a.m. And pushing my limits along with both groups would be one of the top things I could do to improve as a runner.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to make the UCSD track on Wednesday a single time yet. I’m not intimidated (although I should be…I might be able to keep up with the slower groups out here. Maybe). But I can’t get myself out of my bed in time to drive down the coast to UCSD. Instead of doing my own speedwork after missing Wednesday morning track, I’ve skipped altogether. While I can feel my paces improving each week, I know track workouts are the key to rounding into PR shape. (Here is what legendary coach Greg McMillan says about speed work for marathoners.)
So this week, after missing yet another midweek morning workout, I decided I couldn’t wait for another week and another Wednesday to roll around.
I paced a member of the Fleet Feet San Diego 5K training program for five sets of 800-meter repeats. Then after he left, I added five more 800-meter repeats. I ended up doing 10X800m with 400m recoveries, a classic Yasso 800 workout built for marathoners. My final 800-meter splits were 3:02, 3:11, 3:13, 3:15, 3:07, 2:45, 2:50, 2:53 (lapped my watch a bit late), 2:46, 2:43.
I don’t know how my legs will respond to the faster repeats. But I felt really good finishing this workout. I’m sure it was the adrenaline rush of getting back on the track. I’ve missed the tough workouts, the ones that make me question if I can finish all of the repeats. There is something empowering about fighting through, finishing a set and immediately doubling over to gasp air.
The track is essential for me as I chase my running goals. After last night, I realize just what I’ve been missing.
Now to build on this initial return to speedwork. It’s time to get back on track for good. And time to wake up with my alarm on Wednesdays.