July 21st 2016
Today I ran around an athletics track for the first time sine, like, year 10. Apparently Thursday is track day for my work’s lunchtime running club. So we ran the 2.5km to the track and started the circuits.
Today apparently was 4x200m sprints followed by 5x400m sprints. 200 metres doesn’t seem that far until you do it four times, and then another ten times. Being my first day at a track, the bloke in charge gave me some pointers. Apparently the goal of the multiple circuits it to complete the last one in the same time that you completed the first one in. If you go too fast straight away then you’ll fuck yourself over for the later sprints.
He said that because I’m a bloke it’s natural that i’ll want to sprint as fast as possible and overtake everyone, and I won’t want the women to beat me, but if I tried that then I’d just die after the first few, and not be able to finish the session.
Against all my natural instincts, I didn’t try to beat anyone for the first race. Although, to be honest, I reckon I could’ve taken them all if I’d absolutely leathered it round and then got a taxi home. I did the first 200 in like 32 seconds or something. At the end of the half-lap the trainer, Arthur, gave me some advice.
“You think that running is about your legs, but it isn’t. It’s about your arms,” he said. Bollocks. “Think about it, Darwin, evolution. One day in the past we all had four legs because it was a more effective way of running, and now that we stand on two legs, we need to use our arm legs to run properly”
I pointed out to him that if running on four legs was so great then why did we evolve to only having two? Two is clearly the better option else we’d still be on four.
I made a conscious effort on my next lap to swing my arms back and forth, and, to be fair to Darwin, it kinda worked. I ran 200m in 30 seconds. Although it’s both possible and probable that I was just trying harder.
I found the 200m’s okay, to be fair. It was a lot easier than my run on Tuesday because in this instance stopping was actually encouraged. We did 200m then had a sit down and a gentle jog to keep the heart rate reasonably high. I can manage that stop-start thing easy. My third 200m was slower. 36 seconds. I mustn’t have been flapping my arms enough.
On the final 200m sprint I again avoided the temptation to try my absolute hardest, and instead clocked in a respectable 29 seconds.
The difference between 200m and 400m is that 400m is literally double the distance. But the thing is, that it feels like so much more. Because I’ve never really done this stuff before, when Arthur told me “Your 200m should be at a 3k pace, and your 400m should be at your 5k pace” that didn’t mean anything to me. I don’t fucking know how fast I run, I just run.
So I just ran around the 400m five times falling into my place in the queue. In each but one race I came third, not that we were supposed to be competing. In one race I found myself at the very back from the start, and that just demotivated me from trying to catch up again so I took that one as a breather and clocked a 1:46. I found that if I was with the pack, it was easier to stay with the pack. I don’t think that’s a very groundbreaking revolution, but it was true for me. I made it round with varying amounts of success.
On the last few laps I couldn’t help but remember that I still had to run the 2.5km back to the office. A 6×400, if you will. Plus an extra home straight for good measure. I couldn’t put the return leg out of my mind and slowed down for race 3 and 4. The fifth one we all, naturally, picked the pace up a bit. I started to make a burst for the lead, but the guy in front of me just accelerated as soon as he could hear me on his shoulder.
Eventually, we finished the track events and we ran back to the office.
I’ve never been taught running, I’ve always just ran, so it was nice to have some technique training from someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Until tomorrow, on your marks, get set.