Track Comeback

Well I’m not sure that I can call it a track comeback quite yet; but, only time will tell if I stick to the new speed routine. Tuesday morning, I decided to make an appearance at the Syracuse University track for my first speed workout session in years. It has been a long time since these legs felt any type of turnover while running on a 400 meter rubber oval. It’s probably a little late in the season to get started – so I say better late than never, right? Let’s just say I wasn’t singing any upbeat songs like “Tuesday Morning” by the Pogues in my head as I was pulling into the parking lot at Manley Field House.

Go Orange!

Years ago, I asked a friend (who is a really fast runner) how I could get faster and improve my race times. His simple two-word reply to me was RUN FAST. Little did I know that my times were probably considered fast in comparison with the other runners in the races back then. I guess it is my competitive drive that makes me want to get faster again. Hell, I would take those finishing times from back then in a heartbeat.

It’s easy for me to blame my lack of speed and marathon shuffle on my age, 30+ years of running or on how many marathons that I have trained for and completed. The result from all that endurance running is now my stride resembles Fred Flinstone’s flat feet powering up the Flintmobile in Bedrock.

I’m not sure why I have such a love-hate relationship with the track. I know the benefits outweigh the risks so let’s walk through my dilemma.

The obvious:

Love: Speed workouts can make you faster in races and I don’t know of any runner who does not want to experience negative splits.

Hate: Speed workouts hurt like hell!

Time management:

Love: It only takes 30 minutes or less to get a good workout in.

Hate: It takes weeks of consistent 30 minute speed work sessions to condition your body for faster race results.

Body:

Love: I love that speed workouts do amazing things for your body like tightening up your core and lifting the muscles in your buttocks.

Hate: It’s easy to suffer from a nasty hamstring injury by over striding and running fast.

The course:

Love: It’s a nice break from running hills because I can’t escape them in the neighborhood I train in. You also know exactly how far you are running because the track is accurately measured and you don’t have to deal with the tangent factor.

Hate: All of those arcs and turns create havoc on the knees and iliotibial band. Oh, I almost forgot, you have to remember to count the number of laps you run for accurate mileage.

Social aspect:

Love: The chit-chat with friends about how much I hate the track during the recovery laps.

Hate: There is no chit-chat or talking during the interval if you are running these damn sprints correctly.

Variety:

Love: Speed workouts add a little spice into the running routine.

Hate : Speed kills as mentioned up above.

O2:

Love: Anaerobic running conditions your body to process fuel more efficiently so that eventually it feels easier when you are running longer distances in a race.

Hate: It’s not easy keeping those legs moving when they start stiffening up half way through the interval due to oxygen deprivation.

Form:

Love: There’s no better place to work on your running form than the track. The track is also a the great place to have a friend videotape your running so that you can later analyze the areas you need to work on.

Hate: It feels unnatural and uncomfortable to change something that you have been doing for years.

Even though there are many things I dread about interval training, I know that the only way I will see my times improve is to RUN FAST!

Enough said about that. Would love to hear about your thoughts on running fast at the track. Love or Hate -you are the only one that has to like your times.