Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Unforgiving Twenty Minutes

I've been thinking about racing goals for next year. I should choose a goal that's exciting; on the edge of impossibility; one that I'd love to achieve. A fast marathon maybe? No, that's not my scene. I do believe in ideals, and my ideal race is not the marathon. OK then, here's the goal: I'm going to try and break 20 minutes for 5k. My history and progression indicates I'm likely to fail. Breaking 21:30 would be hard enough. Why set myself up for probable failure? I like the idea of the challenge; the likely long and arduous journey that will be set in motion by the goal of running under 20 minutes for 5 kilometres. I've never derived satisfaction from achieving soft goals. I'd rather fail at a difficult goal. There's also the good story I'll be able to tell at the end of the journey — a story surpassing any tall tale Scott Brown is able to tell.

On Tuesday night I was chatting to Gary at the Speedygeese dinner. He said something that has inspired me to try and run this hitherto considered impossible time. It so happened that back in July, Gary ran a six-year PB for 800 metres. 2:32 was quicker than any 800 metre race he'd run since 2004. What's more remarkable is that he's in the 60-64 age-group! I'll have to turn back the form-clock to 2001, but why can't that be possible? Getting on top of my thyroid problem is sure to help, as will shorter hours at work and "proper" 5k training. I also received further inspiration from an unlikely source — the description of an angry 5k race that resulted in a 19:51 finishing time. I need to get angry with my racing!

One consequence of my 5k racing goal is that I won't be running Six Foot next March — the training for a 45k race over mountains is too far removed from what's needed to run fast for twenty minutes. I should give myself at least 18 months to race under 20 for 5k. My training will involve putting together the puzzle-pieces talked about by Pete Magill in the April 2010 issue of Running Times. I'm not aiming for a particular race (although I'd like to run well at the ACT Championships in 2012). There will be many races, as I tend to improve with regular racing. There will also be breaks from racing, to recharge the batteries.

Six Foot 2009Not 5k Racing


Blogger speedygeoff said...

Anger during the race is good, so is calmness and serenity afterwards, however the race went!

3:54 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

That's a good running goal Ewen and I reckon you can achieve it in less than 18 months.

The idea of racing angry is interesting. How effective it is probably depends on how good the runner is at channelling the anger into fast running. I prefer to "attack" a race, with a "get the job done" attitude.

Either way, enjoy getting stuck into your 5km training and race practice.

4:14 pm  
Blogger Andrew(ajh) said...

Well, I will be glued to your blog watching your progress, hopefully you will be very detailed with your training plans and techniques. I have "improve my 5km race PB" as a goal for next year too, but am not being as specific or aggressive as you are. I only began running in 2006 and have only run 3 5km races. Each one has been an improved time (24:03, 23:15 & 22:52), but given that I ran a 16:31 4km race in 2008, my 5km PB is probably a bit soft. I'll be really interested in your progress !

5:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that 20min for 5K is a great goal to set – a major challenge but feasible. I also think that Pete Magill’s article on preparation for the 5K is great. I especially like his suggestions for both short hill and long hill sessions, but overall, the most important great thing is the recognition that there are many pieces of the jigsaw. However I am not sure about his recommendation that duration should be the main way of measuring sessions. I think that an older athlete does need to train for somewhat longer at slightly lower relative intensity to reach his/her peak. Faster running produces a disproportionate stress on aging joints and ligaments. However this makes it all the more important for older runners to do the drills that Pete Magill recommends.

10:28 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

Go speedyewen - you can do it! I will look forward to reading how you achieve your goal and how great you will feel afterwards! :)

11:04 pm  
Blogger Superflake said...

I just saw the movie about Pre 'without limits' today. So it is possible. Just run hard from the front like Pre.

11:06 pm  
Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Great goal, I like it. 18 months seems like a long time, you may be able to do it sooner. But in any case, go for it!

12:10 am  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Great goal!! It'll make a huge difference to train specifically for it and getting your thyroid stuff worked out is going to be major, so don't call it an impossible goal. It's not! But it'll be an adventure getting there. Looking forward to your journey there.

1:26 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is
simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a
positive difference.”
Joel Barker
ewen, write down somewhere you can see it" I'm going to break 20 mins for 5k"
this puts your dream into the real world, read it every day and follow your plan.
you can do it, believe it and push away all negative thoughts :]

5:06 am  
Anonymous Julie said...

Well, I think you can do it. So there.

10:16 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Speedygeoff, that's true! My calm demeanour will help in that regard.

Jog, thanks for your confidence. That's a good thought too -- attacking the race. I should mete out my anger, rather than going berserk off the start line.

Andrew, I post the details on my training diary. For example, this morning was 3 x 1k. I'll post thoughts about races on the blog. Your 16:31 4k was a great run. You're looking at 21:00 for 5k.

Canute thanks for that. I'm coming around to that way of thinking too (for older athletes). I'll be doing the drills (which were a habit a year or so ago).

Strewth, thanks. It'll take many coffee catch-ups to reach my goal :)

Flake, that was a good movie. I like how Pre raced (and his attitude).

Bob, thanks. The 18 months covers two track seasons, although I'll be running 5k road and cross country races too.

Flo, thanks. The adventure along the way is what I'm looking forward to. That's why we run isn't it?

Rick, thanks for that quote. I like it! I'll scrawl something on the wall behind my computer :)

Julie, thanks. Once it's done I'll quote you to the naysayers.

11:47 am  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

If you can ever manage to see Ricks' quote scrawled on the wall behind your computer you'll have a chance achieving your goal, but your "vision" isn't what it used to be ;)

8:56 pm  
Anonymous Joe Garland said...

I love this post. I'm with Flo on this one (as usual). Pick a solid goal, within your reach if not within your grasp just yet. Whatever happens it'll be a hell of a ride. Buckle up.

9:35 am  
Blogger Grellan said...

Great to set the 20 minute 5k target Ewen. 18 month requires a lot of patience (Hope you can bottle the anger for a bit). Should you be setting some intermediate (bridging) goals to keep you motivated?

10:08 am  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

Ewen - it is a bit spooky that I read your blog just after I finished reading that Pete Magill's article. It sounds a good program due to the progressive load (start from 1min reps @ 5k pace, then 2mins reps etc).

Considering to do that program as well before embarking GCM training.

2:37 pm  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Following on from my previous comment .... I'd rather "attack" a race and race with a "get the job done" attitude rather than run angry because on the rare occasions that I am angry I tend get distracted by whatever I'm angry about and not very good at using it as fuel to race fast. However, I may be unusual in this respect. I know that other people can be angry about "whatever" and use that anger to run aggressively and successfully. I guess what I am saying is work out if and how anger can work for you in racing. If you can use it as a source of race energy then "lucky you!". If you can't then I recommend the "attack" approach as a good alternative.

8:57 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

A lot of people race well angry, one of my best memories, is at my first Nationals in the late 80's when the guy who ended up winning, was late for marshalling, and had to argue with the officials to let him start (brisbane track 1500m walk nationals), he threw his bag of shoes, towels etc at the fence he was so angry, and then a few moments later this angry teenager, stormed away to a crushing obliteration of the whole field. Many times I've seen anger turned into good performance, and footy coaches are masters at getting under the skin of players, and needling them mentally enough to go out there and plkay hard...the extra emotion = extra adrenaline, and in shorter races that can be very good. I remember psyching up for 1500m races with my favourite tunes, often metal tunes, over the years. That emotional/adrenaline mix fires up better performance, especially over shorter distances. Anger is not the only emotion that can be used, so can sadness, and many positive emotions, but anger is a pretty strong one.

What no 6 foot?! what about both, but then again you know where you are at, and thats a tough race to go into underprepared.

All the best with sub 20 in 20 eleven, what about making it 20.11 in 2011. ;-)
Thats a tough but maybe achievable goal. Go for it!

7:18 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

hang on my comments are supposed to make you angry to help fire up for a better 5k....:-) how about no you cant do it, anything under 23 minutes isn't possible anymore...go on dare you to prove me wrong...

7:21 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

I'll pay that one Scott. I'll have you know my vision is perfect (with binoculars).

Thanks Joe. Funny you mentioning "buckling up" -- when I was learning to drive, seat belts were optional extras.

Grellan, I'd be happy with 22:30 or so before Christmas. This season (end of March), I'd like to have run 21:20. Then 20:30 next winter.

Sling, that's a good idea. I think it's handy to come into a marathon prep with good 5k speed.

Jog, thanks for that. Anger is foreign to me (except for when I'm in the queue at Woolies). I'd like to have some anger for the 4th kilometre, which is the one where I usually "lose it".

Jonathan, that's an interesting anecdote. I know people who've been fired up because they're late for a race and end up running well with no warm-up. 20:11 in 2011 has a nice ring to it. And thanks for saying it isn't possible. I'll prove you wrong!

8:47 pm  
Blogger rinusrunning said...

You can do it!, it is only 20 minutes!.
You can train for the marathon and you wil see that the 5k go's faster!.
Go for it.

3:59 am  
Blogger Love2Run said...

As you know from my season 19:59 was the goal but just a bridge too far. I've got another year and a bit of a head start on you! Good luck, we'll be watching with great interest.

11:08 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Rinus, thanks. You're right about that too. Lydiard would say marathon training is a great foundation on which to race well at distances from 800 metres on up.

Mike, you ran damn well! Hope you cross that bridge next year!

11:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I like the idea of the challenge; the likely long and arduous journey that will be set in motion by the goal of running under 20 minutes for 5 kilometres. I've never derived satisfaction from achieving soft goals. I'd rather fail at a difficult goal."

This is GREAT stuff. Very introspective, insightful, and a delight to read as a runner. I am excited for you and eager to keep reading about the sub-20:00 quest.

11:16 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks sweatykid. I just hope you haven't signed up for a War and Peace type of read. There could be a lot of chapters ;)

9:55 pm  
Blogger jojo said...

so teh 5km is NEVER beig one of our races then!i may ON a GREAT day break 21.30 but 20 -sheesh

be very happy for you if you do that. GO FOR IT

10:12 pm  
Blogger Robert James Reese said...

Good luck with the goal. With the dedication you seem to have, I'm sure you'll hit it. Too bad you'll have to miss Six Foot, but I think that makes sense... I've learned too this year that preparation for long races doesn't always translate into success at the shorter stuff.

4:03 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Jojo, thanks. I'll be going for it! You have the speed to run faster than 21, but I don't think 30k a week is enough mileage ;)

Thanks Robert. Marathoners can run good 5k races, but it's true enough that 5k specialists are faster.

8:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have quite enjoyed reading your blog backwards today. I started at November 29th and wound my way back to here. I fully support what you now think is an outrageous goal. I once thought breaking 4 hours in the marathon was an outrageous goal; now I dare to dream about qualifying for Boston. I haven't read anyone else's comments here so forgive me if I am repeating what others have already said. I will be interested to see how your training gets you to your goal. Have you considered getting a coach to guide you?

2:24 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks for your support TK. There are two reasons why I haven't hired a coach (besides my Scottish heritage): In the past I've enjoyed trying out different coaching methods to see how my body responds, and, I believe the best coaching is quite individualised and it would be difficult for an 'online' coach to predict how I'll be feeling 5 days from now. For example, a plan might say '6k tempo + 6 x 100m', but if one is tired and has sore legs, the workout would be counter-productive.

5:37 pm  

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