I did a speed workout last night, my first in 6 years. The last time I ran quarters or anything "fast" outside of a race was in 2006 with the Sunflower Striders while I was working in Topeka. I survived those sessions fairly well until my right Achilles gave out during a fast tempo run that I was doing on my own. Three months later I had that Achilles surgically repaired and I haven't done any interval training since.
So the Czarina and I headed down to a local park for a 6:30 p.m. gathering with a local running club called The Speedsters. Perry Small is the erstwhile coach. He's the top masters runner in Southwest Florida. Perry is a likeable fellow and understands the principals to running fast but I'm not sure his charges understand the point of his workouts.
It was plenty warm, about 88 degrees after our 1 mile warmup. Perry told a large group of 25 or so runners to run 8 x 200 easy/hard, then 4 x 400 with a 1 minute rest interval followed by another set of the 8 x 200 easy/hard. He wanted each fast repeat done at our 5K pace. For me that meant running the 200's in 52 seconds or so and the 400's in 1:45.
On the first interval everyone dutifully jogged the first 200 and then all hell broke lose. I know what 7 minute pace feels like and while everyone and their mother was flying by me I hit a 54 and proceeded to jog. A group of guys my age that I'm competitive with were way off in the distance by the time we started the 400's. I was running very close to the prescribed pace, or just a tad faster, between 7 minute and 6:45 per mile pace.
As we hit the last set of 200's I noticed I was catching my age group rivals. They were walking the jog intervals, having worn themselves out racing the intervals. By the next to last 200 I had caught or passed all of them. I made it through the last 200 with my left hamstring barking at me but feeling that I hadn't overexerted myself.
The Czarina made it through the entire workout but had to stop and walk a few of the last breaks. She ended up finishing about 5 minutes behind me. I was really proud of her effort because she's not used to interval training. I think in our 13 years of running together we've done just 3 or 4 track workouts.
I jogged 3 miles tonight at 9:50 and chuckled about my outing with The Speedsters. My new boss is moving me to nights starting tomorrow so I don't know when or if I'll have another chance to do any speed work. I'm a little disappointed because if I can stay healthy, a little interval training would really help. Besides, it felt good busting up 20, 30, and 40 something's who don't understand that intervals aren't racing.