Sprint training, rain and 800m

When you start running, any running that you do is going to make you fitter. Then, after you’ve built up a decent base it’s time to introduce faster running (workouts). Initially, any fast running will be beneficial but eventually each runner will start to get a feel for what workouts are best for them. Of course, we all need variety in our routine – but doing workouts that you enjoy is the best way to keep running motivation high! Until recently most of my speed work was done with long reps and short recoveries, and I never felt like I got the most I could out of the sessions. I’d feel like my pace would turn into tempo (or survival) pace, rather than maintaining a quicker effort. Over the past 4 months I’ve shifted focus to shorter races, and the shorter workouts have really renewed my excitement for running.

We’ve had lots of torrential downpours recently, but luckily they haven’t disrupted my training. I’ve been doing 2-3 workouts per week, which initially involved a tempo run, a workout with reps of 400m and above, and another workout with reps of 100-300m. Plus a weekly long run (of 12km – cue the people telling me that 12km isn’t a long run!), plus hill sprints once in a while. I still dont follow an exact program but I know what I’m aiming to achieve each week.

The past few weeks have seen a shift away from tempo runs, and an introduction to sprint training. I’m not talking just fast running, I’m talking proper sprinting. The aim is to improve technique/efficiency, but I’m also really enjoying the new challenge.

Waiting to warm up
Waiting to warm up

We start with a loooong warmup, including running, dynamic stretching and then form drills (A skips, B skips, etc) followed by strides. We mix it up a little bit from here – the sprint distance will vary between 20m and 60m, and we also spend some time bounding. I like bounding, but apparently I need to learn to stop pointing my toes when I do them (my old dancing teachers would be horrified thinking of flexed feet in the air).

When we sprint, we also vary our starts. Standing starts, 3 point starts, sink-tip-drive… At this stage I spend too much time thinking about the start, and not enough time accelerating into the sprint. We have someone giving us feedback when we do it, but I think I really need to see a video of myself so that I can figure it all out a bit better. My favourite has got to be the flying start – we’ve done 30m sprints with a 30m flying start, so you build up speed in the first 30m and then hold 100% for the second 30m.

Whenever I come home from sprints I am really exhausted, but really hyperactive. And then there’s the inevitable entire body soreness for the next few days. This week I made the mistake of doing sprints on tuesday, an easy run wednesday and then longer intervals today. I would have been better doing back to back workouts tues-wed and then giving myself 2 days to recover properly – the DOMS was pretty bad this morning. When it hurts to roll over in bed you know it’s going to HURT to run. It’s all trial and error.

What else? Oh yeah, that little thing called racing. So I ran the road mile a few weeks ago, then an 800m 10 days ago. The 800m was fairly unremarkable (2:43, same time as back in November), but I actually ran fairly even splits and had some girls to compete against. It was the first 800m where I felt like I knew what I was doing. The best advice I was given before the race was to

Think of the first lap as a warmup lap, the second lap is when the race really begins.

I went out slightly easier, which meant I had a little bit of fight in me for the final lap! After the race I spent about an hour throwing a football around – the following day my shoulder was sorer than my legs!

I’ve got either 2 or 4 weeks left of this track season. I’m racing this weekend (and the weekend after, then the weekend after that…). I need to decide if I want to enter the state championships. I don’t care if I come last, but if I’m going to be racing by myself it won’t really be worthwhile. I’ll see how I go over the next few weeks and then make a decision, and I can probably enter and then pull out if I change my mind.

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