Friday, March 5, 2010

Summer of Speed

My legs were pretty blasted last Monday, but after that I was happy to find I recovered pretty rapidly. My run this Friday felt pretty much totally normal, except for some twinges on the outside of my left knee (I think just more IT band tightness, and nothing to worry about).

One consequence of switching to lighter shoes and consciously working on soft foot-strikes is that it's gotten harder than ever to signal my presence to other pedestrians. This was always a problem, especially in the woods. I would routinely sneak up on people, not out of any malice, but rather owing to the soft surface and a fairly rapid closing speed.

This morning, as I was running in the woods, keeping alert over the light dusting of snow that had fallen the previous evening, just such an occasion presented itself. I stamped to announce my presence to the person I was coming up upon. Nothing. I tried again, harder. Still nothing. At last I resorted to awkward "a-hem", throat clearing, but by then I was close enough that I surprised her anyway.

I need a bell.

What was this post about, again? Right! Next running goal! I've done distance for a bit; now it's in my mind to turn my attention to speed. My rationale is: I'm going on 29, and I'm healthy. Now may be the best time to take one last shot at some of my short-distance PRs. In particular I want a rematch with my 5k time. Unlike most other distances, four years of cross country and track in high school means I ran a lot of 5ks--and at least a handful of them were OK.

I was never super-fast, which is actually just as well now, because I don't have some unattainably awesome performance to measure myself against. My track 5K PR is 17:08. Last year, in trainers and coming off an injury, I still managed to run a 17:46 at the Gilio 5K. That makes me think I'm not too decrepit to make another run at this time.

I am contemplating a typically unsophisticated training strategy. Much like my marathon training ("do lots of 20+ mile runs"), my central principal will be: "you race fast by practicing running fast." I want to mix in "fast miles" to most of my training runs, like 5:30 or faster. Terrain and sunlight make this tricky (hills may be roughly accounted for, but it's hard to run really fast in the dark). There's always the track, but the track is boring. And besides, when I'm racing on roads, I like to practice on roads. Real courses have hills too.

That is all from me for the moment. Thanks for your supportive comments about the marathon, I'm feeling much better about it now.