Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Running in circles

Thankfully my calf injury seems to be progressing well. After a worrying run on Saturday where it started to tighten up after 5k, I managed an easy 7.6k on Monday afternoon with Geoff and Alan. It was all good.

Last Monday night at Speedygeoff's group dinner the subject of running on the track came up. One of the ladies said "I don't like the track – all that running in circles. I'd rather be out on the trails". At the time, I didn't quite know what to say.

I love trail running, but I also love the track. You might have noticed that I've only listed my track PBs on this blog. They mean the most to me. Here are my ancient non-track PBs: 36:25 for 10k road, 53:33 for the 14k City to Surf, 81:38 for the half marathon, 1:48:57 for the Cotter 15 mile and 3:11:02 for the marathon.

The track PBs mean the most because I can compare my modest achievements with those of the best distance runners in the world. They've all raced on the track – Paula Radcliffe, Meseret Defar, Benita Johnson, Haile Gebrselassie and Craig Mottram. Even marathon runners such as Steve Moneghetti and Kerryn McCann. I can remember 'racing' Rob de Castella at the old Bruce Stadium many years ago in a 3000 metre event. I was lapped twice. The 400 metre tracks in Canberra or Wollongong are just as fast as the ones in Rieti or Hengelo. No two marathon courses are the same.

The other good thing about the track is how training on it can help you to run faster. A 400 metre track is a great venue for speedwork (especially if you can find a good grass one). It's nice and safe. You don't have to worry about cars, bikes, dogs or falling branches. When you arrive at the track you are thinking about doing purposeful fast training. You run exact distances and can relate the time that you've run for those distances to your race goal time.

You can do your speedwork at venues other than a track if you don't have access to a good one. A flat smooth gravel trail for instance, or a large well grassed park, or a quiet bikepath can work well – that's if you really do hate running in circles.

Friday, September 15, 2006

So Far Away

I started running again on Tuesday. I was probably more nervous before this run than when lining up for an 800 metre race at Interclub. Thankfully the calf was okay although the session was incredibly modest: 2.5 kilometres of alternating one minute jogs with one minute walks. I averaged 7:01 per kilometre, which is quite a respectable average pace for the Six Foot Track, but very slow for normal training. Nevertheless, I was extremely happy to be back running.

Since the City to Surf I've had a total of 26 days off. This is my biggest break since a bout of plantar fasciitis in the early 1990s which needed cross-training to overcome and led me to a brief, uninspired career as a triathlete. Good fun, but not what I love doing.

Coming back after such a break makes me appreciate the difficulties beginners go through when learning how to run. It's a slow process. I feel so far away from the runner I was in 2004. The funny thing is, back then I didn't realise that 42:20 for 10k is quite respectable.

I'll miss the Canberra Times Fun Run on Sunday because it clashes with the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival. I've decided not to start in the 9k Bridge Run. It's a shame, as running over the Sydney Harbour Bridge is such a buzz. I'm driving up to Sydney on Saturday, perhaps singing one more song about movin' along the highway. I'll be watching the events, which also include a half marathon and marathon, from somewhere near the finish. Good luck to all CoolRunners and bloggers!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tell Me Baby

I'm injured. For some crazy reason I decided to sprint at the end of the City to Surf. During this frenzy I did something to my right calf. I rested it for five days and then ran. It was still sore. After another six days off I ran on two consecutive days. The next day I could hardly walk. After another seven days off I can now walk without looking like John Cleese.

I haven't been doing long runs on Saturday mornings so I sometimes watch Rage. Last week I saw this great video clip by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I thought Dani California was pretty cool, but Tell Me Baby was both inventive and stunningly familiar. The video features singers and musicians who have come to Los Angeles to try and fulfil their dreams. They are interviewed before singing and playing with the band.

It reminded me of most of us. We're never going to score the running version of a recording contract or make a living from what we love doing. That doesn't mean we aren't dedicated or don't love it as much as the Mottrams and Johnsons of this world. We get to 'play with the band' every time we run in something like the City to Surf.

The first three lines of the chorus go: "Tell me baby, what's your story; Where you come from; And where you wanna go this time". I read blogs because I'm interested in how and why people run. Some of these bloggers train as hard as those few runners who are lucky enough to fill that rare piece of road or track at the front of races. Every one of them has a story to tell.