track talk

Wednesday is quickly becoming my very favorite night of the week.  It’s my time to run around in circles under the lights on the local high school track.  Time to work on my speed, to push myself, to practice self control.  To see what I’m made of.  To discover what I’m capable of.

Last night did not disappoint.  It was a warm (for December) and rainy day all day yesterday, but by the time 6:30pm rolled around the rain had subsided and the weather was pure perfection.  I wore shorts, a tank and a jacket but after one easy-paced mile warm up, the jacket was already too much for me.

I was comfortable in my summer running clothes in the middle of December.  Old Man Winter is not taking his job too seriously in the DC area this week!  I am not complaining – 55 degrees is lovely.  It’s just a little strange.  Winter can be a very fickle season around here, so layers are always necessary.

Anyway, last night’s workout was to do 8×800 at T pace with 2:00-3:00 minutes rest between each repeat.  For those of you who don’t know the lingo just yet, and 800 is a half mile, or two laps around the track.  T pace is around 10k pace, or about 85% effort – a pace you can manage for one hour.  Last week I ran too fast, so this week I was concentrating on running the right pace and staying consistent for all 8 of my half mile repeats.

I warmed up for 1 mile at a comfortable pace and then did some dynamic stretching before starting my speed work.  Dynamic stretching is a great way to loosen your muscles before you run.  It is part of my routine before each and every one of my runs – whether speed work, an easy run or a long run.  I do not do isolated static stretching until after my run.  Why?  Well, imagine your muscles are silly putty.  Before you play with it it is stiff, right?  If you just try to stretch it out the first time you pick it up, it will likely snap or fight you on pulling it in two different directions.  Yikes.  If you knead it and massage it actively before you try to move it, it will cooperate much better for you.  So dynamic stretching loosens things up in a gentler way and gets your muscles stretched and ready to perform for you.  When I am done with my run my muscles are nice and limber and will stretch much better for me in static stretching at that point.

Coach Brian from the =PR= Distance Training Program has put together a really great and very thorough video in which he demonstrates and explains dynamic stretching.  My regular routine does not include all of the stretches he shares here, but rather just 3-4 of them that target my hips, quads and glutes especially.  If you are interested in learning more, click on this link:

Ok, so back to my speed work.  After my warm up and dynamic stretching it was time for the WORK.  My goal was to run at a pace that I could handle for all 8 of the repeats.  I was wearing my watch, but really focused on listening to my body.  Coach Adam was there to help me stay consistent, not only with my pace but also with my recovery time between each set.  I have a tendency to not take enough time between reps for some reason, so it was really nice to have him there to remind me of this.

My sets went as follows: 3:30, 3:27, 3:32, 3:25, 3:25, 3:24: 3:25, 3:21.

I am really enjoying looking at this data.  I love that my last repeat was my fastest, that I finished feeling strong and as though I could have kept going, and that my legs also felt blissfully tired when i was done.  This was an awesome workout and a great confidence booster for me.

When I was finished, I found myself thinking about how I could maybe look at this data as an indicator of my fitness for my projected marathon time.  If I think of these 800s as sort of similar (but, ok, not really at all) to the famous Yasso 800s (which I know there is a lot of debate about, but I have never attempted that before so this is the closest I have ever come to trying), then this could be kind of cool.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Yasso 800s, the idea is that you run 10 sets of 800s and take the average time it takes you (in this case I ran only 8 sets and my average time was 3:26) and then translate that to hours instead of minutes to get your marathon time.  You’re supposed to do this about 2 weeks before your goal race, and since my race is almost 3 months away I know this is not really applicable to me right now.  BUT … it is still kinda fun for me to think about anyway.  Since it took me 3 minutes 26 seconds average to do my 800s, then if I were doing the Yasso 800s and was fully trained for my marathon, it would mean I should be capable of a marathon time of 3 hours and 26 minutes.  I will not hang my hat on this and I will not use it as the end-all be-all indicator AT ALL, but it is a fun piece of data to look at and let’s face it, it makes me smile because my goal is a sub-3:40 and I really really believe I am capable of that.  This workout was just another piece of data that makes me feel confident  that I will conquer my goal in March.  When I talked to the very wise Coach Adam about my thinking, he kindly smiled and nodded his head (I think he thinks I am insane, in a good way) he told me I should feel good about my workout last night, keep training smart and leave it at that.  I really like him.

Anyway, so after I finished my 800s, I ran an easy-paced mile to cool down and then stretched a bit before heading home to have dinner and a date with my foam roller.   6 miles total last night and today is a rest day and I’m feeling good.  My legs are not tired or sore like they were last week, so I know I ran the right pace last night and will head into my 16 miler this weekend on much stronger legs than I did last week.  Mission accomplished!

Do you love the track like I do?  Have ever done Yasso 800s and if so, what do you think of them?  What is your favorite workout to do on the track?

5 thoughts on “track talk

  1. I like track workouts because I don't have to think about how far I'm going (versus like a tempo run where I have to keep checking my Garmin to see how far I've gone). I think they're fun, too. I like things where you run fast and then get a break, although sometimes I extend the break too long! I've never done Yasso 800's. I think the most I've ever done is 6!

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