Last night I went to a proper track session for grown ups! The viewtube runners group have use of the Community Track in the Olympic Park every Tuesday, and my friend Mike suggested that I come along. As I have found solo track work has made a great improvement to my running in the last couple of months, I thought that actually doing it properly might be even better. I do not mind admitting that I found this quite nervewracking (more so, in fact, than lining up for a half-marathon on my own). There are three main reasons that I have resisted joining any kind of running club in the past:
- My working hours make it impossible to commit to doing anything every week, and I hate always being the one going “no I can’t make it this time” and looking and feeling like a complete flake.
- Embarrassment over slowness. I knew everyone would assume I was a beginner because of my speed.
- I quite like the solitude of running and wasn’t particularly inclined to do it with other people. However, having taken up parkrun and the RunThrough races this last year I have got a bit more running social.
Anyway, I got to the track and did the session. I was not at all surprised that I was the slowest person there, in fact I was slightly relieved that not everyone there was capable of lapping me and that I had a group to run with (who were really pleased when I described them as “fast”). They did, I think, assume I was a beginner, though as it was my first group track session, I guess technically I was! I tried to explain “I can only run 12 minute miles but I can run a lot of 12 minute miles and have done six half marathons. Also everything has gone to pot after repeatedly injuring my calf and having a sewing needle stuck in my foot” but I was running too fast to get any words out. We did a variety of speed exercises, my favourite being the “train” where you run slowly round the track in a line, and the person at the back of the line sprints to the front (like that thing cyclists do in the velodrome, whatever it’s called). The one good thing about being the slowest and being “on display” is that it really makes you want to push yourself to keep up with the others! But all the other runners were really friendly and not at all disparaging about my slowness, and as they pointed out, if I keep at it, I will be less slow in future. Which would be nice. I know I am never going to be a fast runner, but I don’t think a 30 minute 5km or a 5:30 marathon are out of my reach.
I kept track of the session with my Garmin, though I was working too hard to look at it during the session! At the end it said I had run a total of 7 kilometres during the session, with the fast bits being a lot faster than when I do intervals on my own. I thought my graphs on Garmin looked particularly pretty – I’m not sure I’ve ever had blue dots on my cadence graph before! I was absolutely shattered afterwards (the fact that I’d just done four nightshifts with an average of three hours’ sleep between them probably didn’t help) and this morning I feel a bit like I have been run over by a bus. Though it’s mainly my core/glutes/thighs that hurt and not my calves for once – my physio says this is a good thing.
So I declare my first group track session a success and will be clearing some Tuesdays from my diary to return for more torture!