I actually ran the below session in early November, and wrote this post in its entirety the same week but never got around to posting it. But this blog will start to see renewed attention as I work towards my running goals for 2014.
What do two different countries have to do with a speed workout, and a fairly uncommon speed workout at that?
First, let me mention that I had not completed a formal speed session in my running since the first half of 2011. I can’t honestly claim to remember that specific session, but my running log confirms that it was hill repeats performed on the street outside my housing estate in Johannesburg, and I remember those hill sessions very well. I would run a 500 metre section of the hill, generally 8 or 10 times, and the session would always really hurt.
Since then I have run a lot. I have run fast and I have run slow. My pacing has sometimes been indicative of a fartlek session and sometimes akin to a tempo session. But at no point since that last speed session have I planned and executed a session with any intent or purpose.
When I realised that some errands I need to complete on my third day in Paris would not allow me to complete a morning run, it meant that I would be running in the dark. Therefore I decided the safest option would be to find a loop with no streets to cross. The solution was the Jardin de Luxembourg, which I measured using MapMyRun.com to be around 1500 metres. I never put together routes for my easy runs that involve multiple loops, so I decided that if I was going to complete loops I might as well run them fast.
I planned out my session to run the approximately 3 km from my accommodation to the gardens, complete four loops of 1500 metres with a recovery period in between each. I made it to the gardens without incident, took off on my first loop but it seemed to take forever. I worried that I had already completed the loop without noticing, but when I finally completed loop one I looked at my watch to realise that it was actually a 2000 metre loop.
I ran a 2-minute recovery and took off for lap two. I ran each loop just faster than my marathon pace so it wasn’t a flat out 2000 metres, but it really did feel good to run fast. I decided to maintain my original plan of four loops despite the additional distance of each. Upon completion of my final loop I made my way home following a slightly different route.
With my target now focussed on a fast marathon I will start to include some formal speed sessions. I did enjoy running fast but I do not look forward to my first flat out, red line session, where you attempt to avoid throwing up since it will impair the attempts of your body to suck in enough oxygen to sustain life. However I know that those type of sessions are something I have to look forward to.
Why would anyone not want to be a runner?