100 days of running/natural miler

How many blogs start with the phrase: “It has been a long time since I have blogged”? Too many. I won’t subject you to it.

My thoughts today are about me. I have been training away, regularly. In fact I have run every day for the last 100 days. I have no intention of stopping. Today was probably the toughest day, in the sense that I put in 1h45, with 6k of fast aerobic running, as well as 4x15sec strides. Up until the last couple of weeks, the key to maintaining the streak has been, well, not running very much and not running very fast. But now that I seem to have built up some fitness, it seems a shame not to use it. So…

I have done three races this year. I ran 10k in February, on a tough course during a week where I started lifting weights, and also did the first two quality sessions of the year (not including the race). That was a bit dumb. Do what I say, don’t do what I do, team! The second was on March 25th in Lasalle, another 10k for which I was a little better prepared and I ran about 40sec faster than in February, so that was nice. The third race was a mile time trial organized by Robert Demers at McGill Olympic last Thursday. He was kind enough to invite our group to join in. It was an interesting race.

I ran relatively even splits (too even, as I had exactly no kick: 35,36,38,35,36,36,35,37 or something like that. With decimals it added up to 4:53), and I managed to out race most of the young guys (not Charles Cooper or Erik Demers who were well out in front, and not Graydon who, while decidedly not a miler, is decidedly much fitter than I. Graydon’s not really a young guy though. Right?). I felt too comfortable at first, then, when I tried to change gears I felt uncomfortable at pretty much the same speed. This makes sense as the only workout I have done that was close to mile speed was a set of 10×200 in which I averaged 33.7, with 200m jog recovery in about 1:40. Not really specific preparation. But still, the race felt…natural.

I think I am a natural miler. If you look at my PBs over the years, my best performance is an 8:43 indoor 3k in 2005 which equates on McMillan to a 4:04.5 1500m. I did not run a 1500 in 2005. My 1500m PB is 4:09.1 from 1998, a year in which my best 3k was 9:15 (McMeq of 4:19.4). At other times in my career, I’ve been able to run better relative 1500m performances: 4:14 in 2007, after a 2:51 marathon (McMeq 4:42) and a 9:28 3k (McMeq 4:25); 4:13.7 in 2004, after a 9:04 3k (McMeq 4:14.3–closer) and a 16:01 5k (McMeq 4:17.6); and last year I ran 4:24 at the London 1500m night, with my only other performance a 1:17:51 half marathon (McMeq 4:30.9).

Granted it is hard to compare performances across distances, and certainly my training has varied over the years. But when I look back at what I was doing to hit that 4:09.1, it wasn’t all that special. I was running only about 30-40mpw, and my workouts were not that fast, either. In later years my training volume increased, and, predictably, my performances at longer race distances (3k+) improved dramatically. I never really tried to run a good 1500m. The exception might be the summer after the Boston marathon, when I ran 4:14, but my legs were fried then. I figured I use the base I had from the marathon training and run some fast 1500s, but I remember struggling through all the workouts, and being pleasantly surprised at the results.

So, now that I know a little bit more about middle-distance training, I suggest that I experiment upon myself with a summer track season (as best as I can considering what else is happening, i.e. wedding, house renovations, and of course coaching the real athletes in the club!). Given what Dan Kramer did last summer it’s not a problem that I haven’t really run anything fast yet. Dan opened with a 1:57 in early May, ended up with a 1:53 PB and a 3:49 PB by July. It seems doubtful that I can PB, but I think I can run a 1500m under 4:20 by the end of summer. Maybe even faster, if I really am a natural…

It’s good to have goals. Ironically, my next post will be about how Canada has over-focused on the 1500m to the detriment of our true distance runners. If you want to get a head start on the topic, head over to Steve Weiler’s new blog, and see what he has to say. Read the two most recent blog posts.