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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jones

Racing for Training.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted. Mainly because I’ve been busy and not had any “big” ideas to share. But, I’ve been thinking about the benefits of using races as training runs. Or, as part of training runs. Probably because I’ve done that twice since I last posted. No matter how hard we push ourselves in a training run, we always find that extra gear when we’re in a race. At least I do. Even when I know the race is “just a training run”. I think some folks shy away from frequent races exactly for this reason. Too hard of an effort. But, this can be an invaluable training tool. A great way to add some pure speed and hard effort. Just make sure an easy day (or two) is scheduled after to allow for recovery. And, it’s a fitness gauge. What can I do on unrested legs?

Last Tuesday was the first race of the local running club’s season. The Chickasabogue two miler. Yup, two miles. Remember, I’d only been back to speed work for two weeks before this. Alright, time to see what these legs can do. The race was to be the entirety of my training for the day, except for a warm-up. It’s an evening event, and I usually run in the mornings. A little different mental game. It was hot. Around 87°F with high humidity at the start. I started out feeling pretty good at 6:29 for the first mile. Struggled to hold onto to that past 1.2 miles. It’s amazing how quickly you can go from “alright, I’ve got this” to “I’m gonna die” in running. I got a cramp in my side. The worst, paralyzing cramp I’ve ever had. I couldn’t deep breathe. I was making this horrible sound. But, I kept pushing. I passed two young women. They were the only two females ahead of me. They looked very comfortable as a grunted and wheezed past. About a tenth of a mile to go. Someone yelled “finish strong”. I couldn’t push any harder, but they weren’t talking to me anyway. They were talking to the two young women I passed just a minute ago. Those two, then cam flying by me as if I were moving at a snail’s pace. I couldn’t even try to challenge. I couldn’t take a deep breath. Crossed the line in 13:01. Not bad for a 40-year-old who hasn’t been training for speed.

Then, last Saturday, I found a 5K to do while I was in D.C. (was there on a mini-vacation, to explain the pictures). This was to be as part of my long run. So, I did a long warm-up from my hotel around the National Mall and to the starting area. I picked up my number and walked around for a bit. Didn’t want to get too cooled off before the race. An airhorn, with no warning, signaled the start. Runners were off. I had no idea of where to be in the crowd. I was in an unfamiliar crowd. Head down, into training mode. Push hard. First mile 6:44. Boom. Good. But, my legs were feeling that effort. Second mile, 6:52. Still hanging tough. Felt myself slipping in the last mile. Struggling to keep a similar pace. Definitely a harder effort. 6:54. Push through the final bit to the finish. 21:26. Hard effort. Solid time. Now to finish off this long run. I grabbed a bottle of water and then headed back to the National Mall to knock out some easy miles. Humbling and inspiring sites.

Training Log August 13-19, 2018: 59.0 miles.

Monday – 6.2mi @ 8:54. Smooth and easy. A bit of a cool breeze made this a bit more comfortable!

Tuesday – 1.5mi @ 8:56, 2.0mi @ 6:31, 0.9mi @ 11:09. Warm-up, race, cool-down.

Wednesday – 10.0mi @ 9:04. Legs feeling the hard effort of yesterday, but okay.

Thursday – 7.1mi @ 7:36. Tempo run with the first mile easy, 5 miles of half-marathon pace (7:16, 7:10, 7:10, 7:10, 7:10), and finished out steady. Legs still feeling Tuesday’s race just a bit. The at pace miles were a hard effort. Stability session in PM.

Friday – 3.2mi @ 9:48. Nice and easy on the home treadmill. Thunderstorms. Stability session in PM.

Saturday – 18.0mi @ 8:29. First 10 miles steady, pushed the next 5, and then finished out easy. This was a tough run from the get-go. Weather was questionable, so had to turn around from crossing the bridge and come back on the Island. Legs were still a bit tired. But, pushed the middle miles with a solid effort (7:21 and 7:32).

Sunday – 10.0mi @ 8:13. Light rain during this run kept it cool. A steady effort felt good. Weight session after run.

Training Log August 20-26, 2018: 60.3 miles.

Monday – 3.4mi @ 8:54. Super humid, but felt pretty good.

Tuesday – 10.3mi @ 8:39. Intervals, 15x200m, with warm-up and cool-down. Legs felt good. Strong. Hard effort. Paces for intervals 5:25-6:28. Strong wind on the out, so first half a bit slower.

Wednesday – 9.0mi @ 8:20. Nice and steady. Legs slightly heavy from yesterday.

Thursday – 7.1mi @ 8:39. Comfortable, steady run in the morning. Travel to D.C., and then a double stability session in PM.

Friday – 6-ish miles in 1:09:00-ish. Met up with my coach to run some paths and trails through the D.C. area. The weather was perfect! Beautiful and fun!! Paused my watch at some point and forgot to re-start, so time and distance are off.

Saturday – 7.3mi @ 8:57, 3.1mi @ 6:49, 6.8mi @ 9:16. More great weather. Warm-up miles nice and steady. Legs feeling a bit of the trails (since I generally stick to the road). Cool-down easy peasy around the amazing D.C. sites.

Sunday – 7.15mi @ 9:07. Easy, smooth running past some more historic places. Weight session in PM.

Until next time, y’all.

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