Dhaka, Thursday, 12 December 2019

How was your weekend running?

2018-07-30
How was your weekend running?

It will come as no surprise to regulars when I say that I love the track. Track sessions, mostly on my own, twice a week, are the bread and butter of my training. But I also love a track race: and I wish more people did them. Of course I know that it’s not always possible, practical or accessible for many people to enter track races. But I also know that lots of people simply don’t realise they exist - exist, that is, at a fairly local, low key level organised by running clubs and certainly not only for ‘elite’ runners. That you don’t need to be Laura Muir or Chris O’Hare to toe the start line, and that testing yourself over a short distance on the track is both hideously painful, and a whole lot of fun.

On Friday night I took part in the Soar Mile - a series of graded mile races (times ranging from just over four minutes to just under eleven) on the London Community Track - or, as it used to be know, the Olympic warm up track. Just before the races started, the skies opened and torrential rain threatened to turn the races into 1609 metre swims. But we were lucky, the clouds passed on, and the track soon dried up. As each group did their best four laps, other runners gathered in lane three to cheer them round - beer in hand if their race was already done. Advertisement It’s the first time I’ve done a mile race with such a closely grouped field - for the first two laps I felt completely boxed in, nearly got tripped twice, and was frustrated at what seemed like too slow a pace. Ah, mile racing. How quickly “This is too slow!” turns into “My lungs are on fire!”. Having managed to forget my Garmin, I’ve no idea what my lap times were but I suspect my attempt to really put the hammer down on lap three may have been a tad over enthusiastic, resulting in a ‘running through treacle backwards’ lap four. Mind you, if the last 400m of a mile race doesn’t feel like that, you’ve not gone hard enough. As my coach, Tom, messaged me before the race, “Racing a mile is like being a boxer: if you don’t want to get punched in the face and hurt, don’t get in the ring!”. At any rate, the cheers from lane three and the great atmosphere definitely helped me to my fastest ever mile (5min 37sec: I did once run a 5min 35sec mile on the road but I remain unconvinced it was properly measured!). And on Wednesday I’m toeing the track line again for an open 3,000m. Glutton for track punishment, me. But do have a look into your local clubs and see if there’s something that takes your fancy. These events thrive on enthusiastic runners and volunteers - and one thing they really, really need is more women. When I do a road race, I look around and the gender split seems roughly even. When I look at a track race, it’s often a couple of women and a hundred blokes. The Soar mile races were a happy exception to this - but check this out for a depressing gender split (13 women out of 150 entries). Lets do something about that, ladies! So, over to you. How was your weekend running - did you race, enjoy the relatively cooler weather or are you starting to think about autumn races and goals? Share your thoughts and fears below the line as always