Although it’s true that growing up I didn’t have the fondest feelings for the track, I’ve grown to love it. At one point the track solely served as a pacing strategy for the required 1 mile time test we had to do 4x a year in middle school PE, with the straights signifying the time to run and the curves indicating the time to walk. I think my best mile time in middle school was in the 10 minute mile range and I think that there were several in the 12 minute range. I wasn’t a born runner and that’s one of the reasons why I get so much pleasure from setting and meeting running goals for myself now. Needless to say, it felt great to join a group for a track workout on Tuesday evening and run a mile several minutes faster than my 13 year old self ever could.
Track workouts have been on my radar for a while, especially since I joined the San Diego Tri Club and read in the TriClub emails about weekly (free) track workouts both in North County (where I work/live) and in central San Diego (where I used to live/work). I’ve e-mailed my training buddies several times about these group workouts but have never made it to one. Since doing so well at the Surf City Marathon thanks to Yasso’s 800s, I definitely wanted to incorporate some speed work into my Ironman training plan. While there are two schools of thought on whether or not to do track workouts while training for Ironman, I personally am choosing to include them in my training plan but not at as long of duration as Yasso 800s (10 x 800 Yassos with recovery jog and warm-up would put me around 8.5-9 miles!).
My First Group Track Workout
On Tuesday I finally went for it. I showed up to Carlsbad High School about 20 minutes before the track workout started so I could get a warm-up in. I was a bit discouraged that there was no one there yet – just a bunch of high school lacrosse players. However, about 5 minutes after I arrived a couple of men arrived and started running around the track. Soon after, more and more filtered in and started convening at one end of the track. I introduced myself and soon found a pair of girls who filled me in on protocol. Soon after, the coach announced the workout:
2 x 400
1 x 800
1 x 1600
1 x 800
2 x 400
The workouts always consist of 3 miles of intervals with rest between (not a recovery jog as I’m used to) but change week to week. The large group is split into 3 smaller groups. Group 1 is for people who do intervals at 6:10 or faster, Group 2 is for 6:15-7:15 and Group 3 is 7:20 and slower. I went with Group 3 to be safe. When we took off on the first 400, I was leading the group. We did the first 400 in about 1:47. I wasn’t sure if I was pacing myself right so I slowed down a bit for the second. I was a bit more cautious until after the 1 mile. I ran the mile in just about 7:30 but I felt like I was holding back. So I pushed it hard for the last 3 sets and did the 800 at 3:30 (this will later be my target pace for my 10 x 800 Yasso 800s so I can qualify for the Boston Marathon) and the last two 400s at 1:35 (a 6:20 min/mile pace!).
At the end of the workout I felt like I could definitely run more, but I think it was good that I stopped. In total, I ran 5 miles with warm-up and cool-down. I think that this distance of intervals will be perfect for Ironman training because it will push my body but I won’t be completely exhausted afterward and need a lot of extra recovery time.
It was really inspiring to be running in a group. At first I tried to just blend in, but toward the last few intervals I wanted to win! My competitive nature came over me and I pushed forward so that I would be the first to finish in our group each time. It was really nice to not only be pushed harder than I would normally go but also to have the companionship of fellow triathletes and runners. During the breaks I would chat with another girl who was also there for her first time. We both agreed that we would be coming back!
Have you ever done a group track workout? Do you incorporate speed work into your training?