It’s the last week in November. A Monday. A dark, cold, wet Monday. I’m tired, winter skin has taken hold and they’ve already started playing christmas songs on the radio. Twats. I should be grumpy. But in fact I’m happy, cos I’m off to track.
I love track sessions. Gliding around the bend at speeds I can’t achieve anywhere else. Tucking in behind a quicker runner, over taking on the bend and producing a sprint finish.
The biggest gift I’ve received down the years from attending track has been friendships. I love my track friends. Some of my strongest running friendships were established around that 400 meter stretch of polyurethane.
The weather on this particular occasion has affected the attendance, but it’s Darren birthday and he’s rocked up with chocolates, kindly sharing them out, much to the excitement of the junior runners.
Paul, who’s been battling back bravely from injury, praises me on my new found speed. Berenice kindly retrieves my water bottle from my starting point as she gathers the cones in for Coach Nick. Terry, there to support his ever improving Grandson Jude, gives me some positive feedback on one of my articles. All these little acts of kindness accumulate to make track a wonderful experience and each week I leave with a smile on my face. Except if Glenn’s team have won the relay.
From a running perspective track has many benefits. I’m not going to bore you with all the scientific bullshit, just google it. But what I will say is speed sessions are a vital part of any training schedule, assuming you want to improve of course.
I’m not going to lie, these sessions are hard, or at least they should be. Only this year have I discovered the inner strength to push my limits at track. Granted I finish each repetition bent over, groaning, struggling to catch a breath, but by the time I’ve hobbled my way back to my starting mark, I’m ready to go again.
I used to be lazy. Ambling around at a comfortable pace, reserving energy for the final rep or to try and make sure I beat Glenn’s team in the relay. My change in attitude has brought a change in performance. For the 3rd week running I produce my fastest ever splits.
A year ago I would have been running shorter reps than anyone, but I’ve slowly worked my way up. Even our superstar junior Finlay is only 20 meters behind me tonight, although he soon makes up that ground, powering past me on the back stretch. I’ll forgive him this evening as he’s representing #TeamOrange.
— RunnuR 🏅 (@ukRunnuR) November 25, 2019
These track sessions have helped me to PBs at 5K, 5 miles and 10K this year. What I love the most is the final stages of a race. Pretty much any race to be fair. I know approaching the last 400 – 600 metres that I can find another gear.
My mind instantly switches to all those track reps I’ve done. “Just one lap of the track Si, you got this”. There’s no better feeling than sprinting past 5 or 6 exhausted runners in the final stretch of a race or having your friends in the crowd cheering you on as you produce a heroic, olympian finish.
If you’ve never tried Track then give it a go. Look up your local club, most of them will have a weekly session in their training schedules. I know some runners are put off by the thought they might be too slow and it’s only for the serious runners, well don’t. The beauty of track is that no matter how fast those dickheads run, they are always going to be within a few hundred metres.
There’s no fear of getting lost or left behind and if you stick with it you should see a marked improvement to your race times. But if you ever finish a race strongly and edge past a tall lanky fella, dressed mainly in orange, be prepared for a battle down that homeward stretch. And be prepared to lose! Especially if your name is Glenn.
Written by Simon Linklater – 26th November 2019