Coach Blog: Winter Training Feb 16-Mar 8

Ok, I am bundling a few weeks together here because it has been a busy few weeks. The training happened. Races happened. I’ll just get through the training fairly quick and then talk about the races.

Monday Feb 16: 25min of steady state with surges at Summit. It goes like this: 5×4:45min at steady+15sec at 3k effort. This is similar to that “tempo and hills workout” but it is a little smoother and not hill-dependent.
Wednesday Feb 18: do 10min tempo in the warm up then 800m cruise, then 4x1200m on the track as 1k at 10k effort (so only slightly faster than cruise) with a 200m kick to 1500m pace. The difference in lap splits for the first 5 laps to the last one should be about 6seconds: if you run the k in 3:45 (45sec laps, 37:30 for 10k) then the last lap should be around 39sec.
Saturday Feb 21: long run with pick-ups. 2h run for most, with 3x1min, 5min, 2x2min pick up to tempo. That’s 12min total (so it’s 1min, 1min, 1min, 5min, 2min, 2min). Recovery is about 1-2min depending on what they feel they need.
Monday Feb 23: 5-6x3min at 10k effort, 3min at marathon effort at Summit, then 2x300m fast and core at the track.
Wednesday Feb 25: Standard summer goal pace workout. 13×400 at 5k effort or 5x300m for the mid-d folks.
Saturday Feb 28: easy long. 1h45-2h.
Monday March 2: 20min tempo. Core and 2x300m fast back at the track.
Wednesday March 4: 10min tempo in warm up, then “train fartlek.” Groups run in a line, and the last runner sprints to the front.
Saturday March 7: easy long run or race in Ottawa.
We had a lot of racing in the last few weekends. Here are the results:
AC Indoor open Feb 21+22
Oliver 800m 2:10.46 PB
Henry 1000m 3:07.04
Les 1500m 4:55.22 PB
Anthony 1500m 4:49.72 PB
John 4:41.61
Marie 800 2:30.75
Nassim DMR 400m (not sure of time)
RSEQ Feb 28, March 1 (Quebec university conference championships)
Mel 4:40.36 PB
Val 4:46.85 PB
Dan 4:13 PB
Jarry 3:59 PB
Mel 9:52 PB
Jarry 8:31 PB
Dan 8:51
Kazi 9:28 PB
Steph 1:49 PB (600m)
Ottawa Lions meet March 7:
Dan 15:45 PB
Kazi 16:03 PB
Jullien 16:51 PB
Mel 16:52 PB
John 17:30
Mike 18:02
Anthony 18:04 PB
Annyck 20:05 PB
Les 10:45 PB
That’s 18 PBs in 5 days of racing. 18 out of 25 performances were PBs, too. Not bad.
The biggest and baddest of the PBs though had to be from Jullien Flynn and Melanie Myrand. Both had come off varsity seasons where they ran quite well. Jullien’s results aren’t usually listed here as she’s been training with varsity from the start, but Mel was with our group up until October, after her marathon. Here is the story. I am not ashamed to tell it! On Feb 22, I raced 1500m and ran 4:41. Fairly mediocre, though I was happy with it. I just wanted to give racing on the track a shot again and I have been running 40-50 miles per week, though not doing too many workouts. The following week, Mel and Jullien noticed that their 1500m times were pretty close to mine. We had been having a discussion a couple weeks before that about if they would run the 5000m in Ottawa after varsity season and I said if they did I would pace them, but Jullien (in particular) seemed to think that I would be too slow for them. I humbly suggested that my 20+ years of running experience would make up for the lack of workouts and I would be plenty fine to pace them for a mid-17min 5k. Now the opportunity had come up and it was hyped into a challenge of sorts. Who would win between the three of us? It seemed like a reasonable question: there wasn’t much to differentiate between the two fit young women in PB shape, both with different profiles (Mel being the marathoner, while Jullien had been running little recently, making up for it with lots of biking and swimming) and an older man with lots of experience and a reasonable estimation of fitness.
I figured we would be close and I would try to run a faster last 400m than them. Neither has great top end speed. But it would be a good race and I promised I would do most of the pacing work to make sure that they would PB regardless.
I was not wrong about my ability to run 17:30. I was wrong however, about some other stuff. First, I was wrong that Jullien would let me lead. I actually started to suspect that something like this would happen when I spoke to Steve Boyd, the Queen’s coach, who told me that Julie-Anne the CIS XC champ, would be running a workout at 10:00 for 3k, then picking up the last 2k. “I can just see Jullien just jumping in behind her and running 80sec until the wheels fall off.” Well, that’s what happened, except the part about the wheels falling off. Both Jullien and Mel tucked in comfortably with Julie-Anne and Claire (another very good runner from Queen’s) and after a couple of laps, I did not see them except briefly as I entered the straightaways and they excited them. I stuck with my plan because a) I knew if I tried to run 80s I would blow up and b) I had promised a couple of our guys, plus another Queen’s girl and a girl from Ottawa that I would run 17:30 pace. So I did, and I think the two women got PBs out of it, or at least they seemed happy with the pace job. Our guys faded a bit, but still ran well (one got a PB, the other is in marathon training and did what he could). Meanwhile, about 40sec up the track…
Jullien and Mel crushed their PBs, and also the expectations of pretty the vaunted McMillan calculator, which I use for almost every instance and has to this point rarely been wrong. If you plug in 9:52 for 3000m you get 17:20 out of McMillan. So it would have seemed that an initial pace of 83-84 sec would have been safe, and if they were feeling good, they could have taken off in the last couple laps. But this is the mistake. Ironically, I sent a podcast to the group this week, on just such a subject. I guess I didn’t really take my own advice. The advice should have been: don’t set limits for yourself. Usually, when we get ready to race, we try to figure out what pace we should run, and then basically stick to that. Rarely do we focus on position or winning the race, usually because that’s a rare position to be in or to need to worry about. PBs are the thing. I do think this is a good approach most of the time. But there is something to be said for throwing down now and then. I agree that the “art of racing” so to speak, has been lost. As Toni Reavis points out fairly regularly on his blog, almost every top level race is a paced time trial these days. There are multiple reasons for it, and for the most part, I get it. But it was really great to see, even in our small corner of the running world, two runners just get after it, with no regard for what they were “supposed” to run. I hope we see more of it.