Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Two of my recent races have ended on a track. At the time, I remember thinking the only thing I liked about the track was that it marked the end of these runs.

I don’t like the ultra-flatness of the track or the limited scenery. I don’t like the thought of sharing my running space. I don’t like the monotony.

But I’m now trying to embrace track runs with more excitement. Or at least I’m just trying to get to the track. Period.

I had my first go-around, literally, on the track last week – finally taking the advice of my Second Coach Geno, who’s been urging me to try track runs or tempo runs as a way to build up strength, speed and a laundry-list of other benefits.

My online training plans also built in a weekly track run, and my successful marathoning friends sing the praises of a little speed work.

Surely not all of these people and training plans could be wrong.

I know I’ve fallen into a rut of running semi-consistent mileage at a semi-consistent pace. I want to get better – to run faster, longer and stronger. And this seems like the way to do it. Or so I’m told.

I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated of the track. I’m not sure I’d actually ever run on one – except maybe the occasional gym class drill. Running plans with numbers like 2x800s confused me. I didn’t know exactly how to tackle it.

Geno provided me with detailed instructions and a plan, even agreeing to meet me at the track if I needed help and answering my many questions by email.

But I decided to try this one on my own, on my 34th birthday. Sure, happy birthday to me.

I made my way to the Memorial High School track, where a large group of high school lacrosse players was assembling for a practice on the inner grass. (I didn’t realize until later that this would mean I might be dodging lacrosse balls that came flying across the track.)

I pushed myself through Geno’s planned workout, which consisted of a mile warm-up, several intervals at a faster pace, then a mile cool-down. It ended up being about four miles. And it seemed to take forever.

Normally I can run four miles without much effort. But I felt this workout in my legs and back. I felt myself pushing my heart rate. I challenged myself to run faster laps.

That morning-after soreness in my muscles felt good. It felt like I was advancing already.

If that’s how I felt after only one workout, I can’t wait to see what a summer of weekly track runs will do for my training.


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