On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How do I run a mile?

Saturday is the Fifth Avenue Mile. I ran this race last year in a blistering 7:53. I would say my fitness last year was roughly comparable to my current fitness, except that this year, I have done no speedwork. A few 10k pace tempo runs and one or two hill workouts are not adequate preparation to race a mile - especially when I'll be competing against the likes of Jenny Barringer Simpson.*

I'm not even sure that my legs remember how to run a mile. The splits are marked at 400m, but I don't know that I have any muscle memory for my 400 pace, either. Last year, my only goal was to break 8 minutes, so I stuck to a 2:00 split for the 400s and came in just ahead of it thanks to a slight downhill at the end (tempered by a slight uphill at the beginning). I remember feeling okay about the race. The first 400 was a touch fast, the middle 800 was just me hanging on, and the last 400 was painful. Good painful.

Now, I know that the stupidest thing in the world would be to go out and do some speedwork in preparation, right? Today is Thursday, a scheduled rest day for me. I was intending to run tomorrow, but easy. Should I throw a couple 800s in there?

What do I do?

This totally happened and is not me copying one photo into another.
*So Jenny Simpson will be in a different heat than me and will finish several minutes faster than me. Next you're going to tell me that I was not competing against Catherine Ndereba when we both ran the 2002 Chicago Marathon.


  1. RESIST THE URGE to do speedwork today! The last thing you want to do is try to race a mile on tired legs.

    Do consider running "strides" as part of your warmup about 20 minutes before the race. It will get your legs ready for speed once the race starts.

    PS - Love the picture and the caption. Hilarious!

  2. I wouldn't try to squeeze anything in betw now and then. Race morning get 1-2 miles in pre-race nice and easy and finish with a few 1/4 mi strides

    See you there!

  3. No speedwork. None. Nada. Do you hear me? N-O spells no!

    I can't help but recall that we used to do 400m repeats in 2:00 or less. 2:05 felt slow and 1:55 was a strong finish. And now? Let's not get into the details, mmkay?

    My group did a fun workout a few weeks back that involve a bunch of warm-ups and then 2 1-mile repeats. (Btw, fun = so hard I almost puked.)

    I ran 9:00 and 9:05 for my miles. The thought of dipping under 8:00 is awesome. I think you are such a stud. A fit bitch. A fighter.

    FYI, my track group sings Chariots of Fire and Eye of the Tiger in our final lap. Oh yes, I'm just as dorktastic as ever!

  4. PS: That photo of you makes me want to run Chicago again. And we HAVE to do it together.

    Which, of course, means that I need to get fit so I can keep up with you. Or get you drunk the night before the race so you run hungover. Either way, we are going to wear shirts that say "I'm with her =>" and cross the line holding hands.

  5. No way are you going to impact your speed doing one session before a race. Next time, plan ahead :)

  6. Whatever, you totally DUSTED Ndereba.

    I was going to say strides too, but you posted this a million hours ago so clearly I was beaten to the proverbial punch. I'm running it too - I never did before! Frankly, I'll be excited to be in the 8's. If that even happens. And I haven't even thought about pacing because I am a lame, unprepared runner.

  7. Speedwork isn't going to buy you anything at this point, and because you haven't done any, it'll just wear out your legs. If you HAVE to, do some strides on a treadmill today so you can get the feel for what an 8:00 pace feels like in your legs.