Post-2017 track season reflections

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So what are my post-track season thoughts for what’s taken place over the last couple of months. Basically it’s that I’ve finally come round to thinking that I can be as good as I want to be on the track. Whether I am that good (i.e. as good as I’d like) just depends on how hard I want to train, how much I want to give of myself in getting my body to run that quick.

Training under Matt Yates I was made to put my body through tests in training I’d never put it through before and came out the other side quicker for it. A case in point was after I’d ran a nearly 5 second track pb for 800m in 2:05. I would logically have felt that I gave all I could of myself and hadn’t left an ounce of energy left on the track. Matt straight after the race took me over to the back straight and told me to run a distance of about 110m all out when he blew a whistle. Once I’d finished the rep I had to wait for him to blow the whistle again and then run the same distance. He didn’t tell me how many reps I was going to do or how long he’d give me for recovery. Each rep got harder and harder. I was completely out of breath and feel absolutely spent. In total I think he got me to do about 10 reps and the recoveries got shorter. That’s approximately 1100m of all out running after a big 800m pb which was supposedly giving ‘all I had’. That one specific training experience taught me all I needed to know about myself. Its that when it counts when I really need to rely on having an extra gear it is infact there – it’s just a case of whether I am brave enough and willing to hurt myself enough to use it.

PBs set in 2017 on the track:

800m – 2:05, 1500m – 4:11, Mile – 4:30, 3000m – 9:17, 5000m – 15:49

I felt like I’ve got my middle distance track pbs to something bordering on respectable for a club runner – for competing in say an area-league match. However my determination to improve doesn’t stop there. When they talk about good club runners track times people use bench marks such as sub-2 for 800m, sub-4 for 1500m, sub 8.30 for 3k and sub 15 for 5k. Infact, interestingly enough, a world class female athlete looking to win on the world stage would be looking to run those times for sure. Now I don’t intend to undergo a sex change incase you were wondering.

The aspirational times I set out above are vastly quicker than anything I’ve done before. Taking another 5-6 seconds off my 800m pb is frankly a massive ask. Let alone another 50 seconds off my 5k time. However what has become abundantly clear to me this year is the reason why I run (?) I run and take the most satisfaction from it when I run quicker than I ever have before for a set distance. My desire to run quicker is what gives me the motivation every day to go out train and try to improve myself. For the last few years I’ve set myself huge targets of trying to take big chunks of many seconds or even minutes out of my personal bests. Whilst I know each target I set myself will be very difficult to achieve and, frankly, occasionally ridiculous I know it’s the very fact its hard to achieve is what sustains me and keeps me focused on doing the work I need to do.

The cases of my 800m, 1500m and 3000m pbs all set in 2017 suggest I was capable of going quicker this year which is certainly a motivating thought to keep training through to next summer.

Of course one needs to be realistic. I’m 31 years of age. For someone to be super quick middle distance track runner one could argue you would be at your best by your mid (at best late) 20s perhaps. I doubt very much in say 4 or 5 years time I will be getting quicker at these shorter distances. The trend to go longer and a bit slower as you age is often true. But you have to be clear in your mind on what you want to achieve if you are going to have any of chance of achieving what it is you want. I will give myself hopefully one more track season and if I’m really lucky 2 more to really go after those times. After that I’m sure I’ll still hit the track races (body allowing) but perhaps won’t be so obsessed and focussed on my finishing time and hitting personal bests but more on just doing the best that my body will allow me on that day.

Anything truly meaningful in life always requires hard work. Beyond the running there is so much more, i.e. relationships, family, friendship, work (dare I say even studying and other personal development). There are only so many hours in a day and the challenge is to use the time wisely. I’m very much aware that there is no guarantee as to how long the road I am travelling on will last for and that applying oneself to the pursuit of ever increasing speed can only continue for a fixed period of time. 2017 has been great. The highs have made the lows pencilled out in other years definitely seem worth it.

I hope I can experience more of the highs I’ve felt this year again.

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