Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Speed Work

This post was supposed to be about Girls on the Run, an awesome running program for girls where I volunteered this fall. That post is coming. Eventually.

In the meantime, there is something much more pressing on my mind: Speed work! I just finished my first track workout in...I-don't-know-how-long. Years.

Oh. My. God. You know how I feel right now? Awesome!!!!

Here's how my morning began: I got up at 7:00, even though it's a holiday and I didn't have to work. (Yay!) I walked the dogs, ate breakfast, and drank an entire pot of coffee. It was cold and rainy out, and I thought, gosh, what a great day to take Cap (my dog) out for a run on the JP trail.

Since I hadn't met my mileage quota last week, largely due to the fact that I forgot to look at my schedule and just ran, I thought I should check to see what I was supposed to be running today. Here's what my workout said:

8 miles, speed work: 2X(12,8,6,4)

Fuck!! Who put that on the freaking schedule?? (Oh yeah, me.) And why on earth would I need to run a workout that included 400's when I was training for a marathon?? Then again, the workout could have read: 2X(4X12) which would have been infinitely worse. I refuse to run mile repeats on the track, relegating them to the road only, but 1200's on the track is painfully close to to mile repeats on the track.

Anyway, with a huge, pitying, self-absorbed sigh, I got dressed and headed down to the track. Getting in the 8 miles turned out to be no problem, since I had 1.5 miles each way to the track, plus I planned a 200 meter jog between reps, and a 400 meter jog between sets.

I'll spare you the blow-by-blow account, but for a few details. First, I was slow. Slow as molasses. Slow as Sarah Palin searching for an intelligent answer to a question from Katie Couric. Slow as a decathelete in a 1500. This is what my wach told me, anyway. I wasn't too discouraged because it was to be expected, even though I was definitely pushing myself for these slow times.

Second, I didn't slow down much in my second set of reps. Okay, the 1200 was way off, but overall my times were basically the same. So I'm slow, but at least I still know how to pace myself somewhat. I was certainly laying it all out there by the last two reps, so I know I wasn't just slacking.

My slow jog home felt brilliant. I was exhausted. Maybe I was slow, but running on the track felt incredible. It still felt like home. And I felt so powerful that I am pretty sure my next order of business after this blog post is to go out and save the world.

A workout that had me trembling with fearful anticipation this morning, went beautifully. Somewhere, way down in the dark, scary places of my soul, that runner that loves to go fast just got a swift kick to jolt her from her long slumber. She's still held back by the allure of hibernation, but I have no doubt that in a few weeks time, she'll be out on the track in all her glory.


  1. That's great, Gretchen.
    Funny, I recently started doing speedwork as well, in preparation for a sub-3 marathon attempt.
    I am doing the Yasso 800s once a week, adding one 800 each week.
    Today my son was playing soccer near the Nevada Union track, so I tried 8x800s there. Each rep was about 10 seconds faster than on the flat dirt trail close to my house that I normally run on--it was great. Tough, but it felt great afterwards.
    It's amazing to watch the progress from week to week. What feels almost impossible one week is usually much easier the following week.
    Which marathon are you planning to run? I am thinking about Redding in January.
    Take care!

  2. "Anyway, with a huge, pitying, self-absorbed sigh, I got dressed and headed down to the track."

    Haha that was me many a Tuesday night as I headed to track practice. I always felt great afterwards though which kept me coming back.

    Well look at you, the love is coming back isn't it. The running gears are starting to turn again, good for you.

  3. I think yesterday was a day for speed workouts! I did a mid-length run, and then sprints after. Lots of sprints. I got that good achy I-ran-hard-yesterday soreness this morning. That's one of the best feelings of accomplishments out there, eh? :) I'm glad your run was fantastic~ it's always inspiring to me to see others having a good workout, and then get out and have one too!

  4. Your speed work sounds great in a painful sort of way :) I can't wait to start doing some myself, probably after the New Year. Glad to "read" the excitement in your posts again.

  5. I am half way through me speed program... and feel your pain!

  6. Hey Gretchen! Can't wait to hear what you have to say about Girls on the Run! My friend started the program in Bend last Spring and I was a head coach...it was awesome! Such a great experience...She wants me to start one in Eugene, but I'm a slacker! :)
    Glad to read about the after-glow of a track workout...they do feel good when they're over!!
    Hope all is well with you!!

  7. Barf. Will you come do my speedwork for ME please? I have never felt AWESOME after a speed session. I just feel sore and like I need to go to the bathroom. Please, oh please tell me that these things ACTUALLY count for something, and REALLY work. I'm not talking 2% performance gains, I want to hear that speedwork will take minutes off your pace.

    I'm glad you're back at it and loving life though. I've missed you.

  8. As an ageing ex-Cross Country runner and mid-distance speedster, I GET IT!! The longer I go, the slower I get. And hey, those speedy days were 25 YEARS AGO!!
    But still, even though I seldom do speed work, when I do I remember how much fun it is to go fast and how strong it makes you feel!

  9. You get a big attagirl for going to the track! It's not always something I look forward to (like today), but after almost every track workout, I feel good...and fast (relatively, ya know!). I love that you're mixing up the distances, too. Ladders are great as you don't get bored with any single distance. I hope Surf City goes well for you (I was considering it, but have other Feb. plans now).

  10. The older I get the faster I was....

    Ladder repeats are my favorite form of self abuse in the attempt for speed. I suppose if we ever run into each other it will be when you "chick" me at a race.

    I've gotten so involved with the long runs that I've got a total disregard for the all important speed work. I probably won't hit the track again until spring.

    Keep up the great work and enjoy watching those times drop.