Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rising from the Ashes

At least that's the hope.  If I'm ever going to hit the 800m times I'm gunning for down the line, I'll need to increase my speed drastically.  Don't get me wrong - I'm going to bust my ass trying to improve my endurance, my strength, lactate threshold, VO2Max, etc, etc - but at the end of the day, to hit my goal 800m times, I'm going to need to resurrect a significant portion of my speed.  

Over the past few weeks, I've been pleasantly surprised as to how well my speed has come around.  Still a long way to go, but each week I've been able to either hit lower 200m times or have it such that hitting a certain time has been considerably easier than in previous weeks.  Obviously, I've been wondering how long this can/will continue.

Today's 400m/200m session as posted previously:

Warm up 2x200
400@66/67--90 rest
6min rest
400@63/64 60r
200@28/29 60r
6min rest

As I looked over this workout, I honestly believed that if I stayed near the slower end of the range during the first two sets, that I had an outside shot at a 58.8 final quarter provided I stayed focused throughout and didn't give in to the pain during the final 150m.  I based this on my times from last week, and an estimate of how much fatigue would be in the legs after the first two sets.  59.1 - 59.3 would be more likely, but unless there was an issue, I was going to go for the 58.8

The legs felt very strong at the start, and I hit the warm up 200s in 28.4 and 28.9.  This was the first time the second one came in under 29.5, and I hoped this was a sign of good things to come.

In each of the 400s, I would be running into the wind on the back straight. (although the wind was not too strong today)  Target for the first quarter was just 66/67 and I really wanted to come in at the slow end on all of these reps saving up for the last quarter . . . . however I did a pretty miserable job of judging pace most of the day.  I hit the first 200m in 30-flat which was WAY too fast and I did my best to slow down to conserve energy.  I nearly had to jog in the last 20m and I still hit a 64.  Wow, that was a surprise.  As happy as I was to hit such a time so easily I was more than a little irritated w/ myself for burning that extra energy.  

I made it a point to go slower on 400 #2.  After a 32 second first 200, I judged the pace poorly again on the back straight and came in at 67.  Damn, I had just run the first two 400s at the correct times . . . but in the wrong order.  At least the 200m was run correctly at 30.4

For set #2 I switched from the flats to the spikes.  I payed close attention to the pace on the 400 this time and came in on target in 63.9.  I could tell after this one that some fatigue was creeping in.  The first 200m of set-2 was into the wind, and once again I fell asleep at the wheel after a nice opening 100m - 30.7.  I didn't want to cheat the final quarter by running these reps too slow, so I tried to make up for the bad 200m by hitting the final 200m harder - 28.1

On to the final 400m - essentially the whole workout.  What could I hit after the three previous 400s and five previous 200s?  I'm sure this is what JT was interested in finding out, and obviously so was I.  I knew clearly that my speed was better than it was last week, but I was a little more fatigued than I expected to be - I still figured I had a shot at the 58.8 and so I was going to try and run it accordingly.  

As expected, the first 200m felt nice and smooth - a quick first 100m, and a nice stride down the back stretch.  I looked down at the Garmin at the 200m mark:  first 200m - 27.x.  Although I was slowing, the second turn wasn't that bad.  The pain didn't start to hit until there was about 110m to go, which caused me to skip the 300m split.  The final 100m was tough, but not NEARLY as bad as the final 100m of the last rep last week (300m).  I was confident I had done enough over the last 200m to go sub-59, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a final time of 58.15.  (meaning the final 200m was probably about 30.5 - very happy w/ the final 200m considering the fatigue from the rest of the workout)

Another weekly speed session where the speed has increased.  Early on it was obvious that the speed increases were coming from improved coordination.  Now I'm not sure what's going on.  Is it more power in the legs?  Is my leg turnover increasing?  I don't know, but clearly the repeated work is bringing back some sort of muscle memory from a long long time ago.  My only hope now is that I'm just in the middle of this process and not at the end!


Wed, 1/7:  4-miles including 2x200 (28.4, 28.9),  Set-1:  400m-400m-200m (64, 67, 30.4), Set-2: 400m-200m-200m (63.9, 30.7, 28.1), Set-3:  400m  (58.15)


bricey said...

great speed session. It reminds me of the type of workout that I used do in college. That third set was a flyer - sub-58 next time!! You shouldn't have too many worries about your speed it's coming along nicely and it's not even race season yet!!

Ewen said...

A 58 to finish off that session is impressive! Whatever the coach has you doing seems to be working. Do you have any race time goals for the 800?

Thanks for you comment about focusing on the race distance. I haven't done much 1500m pace work lately - that's something I intend to change.

Mike said...

Thanks guys, comments always very much appreciated.

Brendan - I always seem to be concerned about when/where the speed improves will come to an end as it will determine what I do afterwards. As my coach tells me, "you already have enough speed to be a miler, but you still need more to be an 800m runner". (Although she seems confident that it will get there, but until I get there I guess I'm going to have my doubts)

Ewen - nothing more than a rough guesstimate as to an initial target time right now. If all goes well we're planning on doing a speed session soon that includes a race pace type 600m effort. What I'll be looking for there is after a fast 400m, what does the next 200m feel like? I want to know how I feel after 500m, 550m, and 600m to gauge how much I'd have left for the final 200m, and then adjust my target pace accordingly. What I don't want to do on race day is go out too aggressively on the first 400 and hang myself on the 2nd - and conversely, I don't want to go out too conservatively because I'll then never be able to make up the time.

I think I need to feel a 600m first and then make a decision on a target pace. So, hopefully in a week or so I'll know the answer.