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Switching gear

July 9, 2011

In recent races I’ve not had a reserve of speed to draw on as the finish line hoves into sight. For example, at the recent Southend Half-marathon I ran a fast-but-easy race and yet wasn’t able to make a dash for the timing mat in the closing stages. This was a clear symptom of a lack of speedwork.

So I’ve taken it on myself to sort out my training routine and rhythm. Each week I’ve been doing one of two lunchtime speedwork sessions – either fast laps around Russel Square Gardens (1 lap fast with one length recovery x 8) or sprints in  Tavistock Square (full effort for a long length of the gardens followed by recovery on the short length of the gardens x 15 or so). I’ve also taken to either cycling or running to and from work, making my commute more productive, quicker and cutting out the stifling heat of the tube in the summer.

Having missed the Serpentine three-parks run (a weekly club run on a Wednesday around the Royal Parks with paced groups) for several weeks I was determined to actually make it to the run and get a decent tempo run under my belt before this weekend’s race. There was a diminished turnout, with one speedster setting out at 6-minute miles, and a reasonable group willing to pitch in at 7-minute mile pace. The pace at these runs is always faster than the target, but even so I began to pull away from my group after about 2 miles. The run came easily and smoothly, so I kept up the pace and ended up averaging around 6:30. My lunchtime speedwork sessions seem to be paying off nicely.

Now, with a fairly ambitious half-marathon goal to aim for, I thought it would be useful to incorporate a speed-based goal into my training over the next few weeks. As it just so happens, the excellent Marathon Talk has announced Magic Mile Global Team Challenge – run the fastest mile you can and see how your region and country compares versus other Marathon Talk listeners.

I’ll take my fastest split from tomorrow’s race – the Lee Valley 10k, a flat but slightly off-road course, which should be fast – as my base mile pace. After that, I’m going to need to find somewhere uninterrupted to run an actual timed mile. (By uninterrupted, I mean not too busy, no roads to cross, no barriers to dodge through and flat.) In training during the winter I was managing mile repeats at around 5:40–5:50, so it’ll be interesting to see what I can knock out. Any thoughts on good locations for running the mile would be muchly appreciated!

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 12, 2011 3:13 pm

    Hey Lewis,

    Great blog and thanks for spreading the Marathon Talk word 🙂


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