So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad* Training Specialist. Runner. Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) Certified Official, Category 2. RRCA Representative, Florida (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Relay" does not mean "Delay"

The sign at the college campus entrance provided a knee-deep sense of foreboding...which quickly turned hip-to-waist-deep once I saw the tents and pop-up covers.  A fund-raising relay event on the track, in 25 words or less, meant no chance for speed work on the track.

If you're doing workouts on your own this isn't a big deal; you just have to go to another track, right?

What if there isn't another track nearby, or the track has a less-than-desirable location/surface?  I first had to deal with this "problem" during a two week assignment to Orlando, many years ago.  The hotel gym had a "typical inexpensive hotel gym" quality treadmill (translation: great for walking and not much else); and the staff did not know the location of the nearest track.  However, there was a long, straight stretch of roadway, about three miles in length, with light poles spaced about fifty yards apart. 

Speed workouts don't necessarily require a track; a favorite jogging path, stretch of road or trail will do.  The most-popular form of speed work done on paths, roads or trails would have to be fartlek, which is the Swedish for "speed play."  The fartlek workout has certain benefits as well as drawbacks:  A runner can pretty much push the pace for as long (or not as long) as they feel, they can vary the pace, and they can vary the recovery periods. 

However, I'm a bit of a knucklehead about speed work, and in fact, about most of my runs.  There has to be a purpose, some sort of plan, behind all of this; otherwise I might as well have my feet up on the couch watching SportsCenter.  If there are regularly-spaced landmarks along the way I'll figure it out from the outset and plan something like this:

First two miles - comfortable jog
Next mile - 200 meters, more or less, with 50 meters recovery jog
Next mile - 400 meters, more or less, with 50-to-100 meters recovery jog
Next mile - 200 meters, more or less, with 50 meters recovery jog

The efforts would be anywhere from highly aerobic (a pace I can hold steadily for five kilometers) to eighty-percent of maximal effort.

Now, with the consumer-grade GPS we can probably keep a closer eye on distance efforts and recovery intervals.  For those persons who aren't into GPS, another option would be to set a running watch on countdown timer for a thirty-to-sixty second period, set to repeat. Jog easy for fifteen to twenty minutes, then alternate harder and easier efforts during each repeat.  The distances are not so much the important quantity as much as the effort and recovery times.  Harder efforts, naturally, will most likely require longer recoveries.

So don't let that "Relay for Reality" or the infield soccer camp make you set aside your speed work.  Find yourself a place to let your horses run free.

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