Yesterday a friend emailed me to share his latest triumph. A newbie to this self-inflicted torture called running, he’d had a big breakthrough: “I actually felt like I was running last night instead of plodding along,” he crowed. “Not for the whole run, but for parts of it I was actually running –even once on a (very) short uphill slope!”
We runners love to swap stories, so I shared with him mine from the day’s track session. I was to do 5 x 800 meters at 7:15-ish pace (3:42 for the two laps), with a recovery interval of two minutes between each set. This falls into my “doable but aggressive” category, so I naturally dragged along a training partner who is a much better runner (premise: if my running starts to go horribly pair-shaped, I can always wuss out and tuck in). This particular training partner often offers advice that’s helpful in retrospect but humiliating in the moment; his mid-stride ability to communicate in great-big-well-thought-out sentences (subjects! predicates! prepositional phrases even!) shines a great big ol’ spotlight on the full extent of my suck-age since I can barely eke out a responsive “uh-huh”. (Confession: I have spent many a 400 trying to think of a single-syllable response. Better yet, I could teach him a few hand gestures! Our own little track sign language! No wait; that’d throw off my form.)
With his help, I hit my pace for all five of the 800s. Hurrah! But his mid-stride observations of my form were a mixed bag. “Right now, your form looks great—you really look like a Kenyan…”
What a difference a lap makes. “What are you doing? Your arm motions look like you’re trying to dry your ass with a towel.”
So, cut back to my running-not-plodding friend. The Kenyan-ass-drying bit didn’t raise his eyebrows. (Truth be told, I may not have shared this with him; some things simply shouldn’t be said in public, or so they say.) No no no; he was curious about the recovery interval. “What are you actually *doing* during those 2 minutes?” he asked. “ If I was actually able to maintain a 7:15 pace for 2 laps (not this week!) you’d probably find me trying to figure out where I had left my lungs.”
Ah! The Recovery Interval! It is a rich topic lately amongst the victims (I mean athletes) under the torture (I mean tutelage) of TC2Coaching. You see, our recovery intervals as of late seem to require their own recovery intervals.
Now I can’t tell you exactly what types of torture Coach Tim inflicts during ri’s. After all, I have a coach for a reason and that reason is I really do want to drop the imaginary towel and beat you (yes, you!) on race day. I admit: I am that girl, the one blogger Stride and Joy calls a “speed bully”. (An aside: maybe someday Stride and Joy and I can switch brains for a single race. She can wear my compression socks and “obnoxiously large GPS watch” and I can focus on the post-race T-shirts and beer. You know, just to see what it’s like on the other side? Wouldn’t that be fun? I think so!)
Indeed, Tim’s concept of the “ri” is an ancient Chinese secret I’m not willing to give away.
Suffice it to say that someday I would not be surprised to log on to TrainingPeaks and see something like this on the agenda:
That’s all for now. Enjoy your recoveries, stop drying your ass whilst running and for goodness sake add a little Joy to your Stride.