Posted by: Karen | February 8, 2006

Ladder Training

I ran a ladder-type speed workout at the Olympic Oval track last night. Dawn couldn’t be there, as she had some volunteer work to do for the Calgary Marathon, so she got in her own speedwork earlier in the evening. I’ll get to see her on Saturday, for the Nose Hill XC.

After a 4 lap warm-up Coach Derek assigned the distances for repeats:
A: 800m, 1000m, 12000m, 1200m, 1000m, 800m
or B: 600,800,1000,1000, 800, 600m.
The group laughed when I asked if there was a C (aka Penguin) option, but Derek kindly kept a straight face and suggested maybe a 500, 600, 800 ladder. We were to strive to keep our effort to Zone 5, which in terms of my effort scale comes out as “Not just not-talking. This is beyond not-talking”.

I was feeling brave, so opted with Sylvie to do Option B. She and I showed a couple of newbies where the markers were and showed them our idea of Zone 5 speed for those distances, and then the newest, youngest one (“I’m not a runner, I just play volley ball and need to improve my endurance”) cheerily proceeded to kick our butts. Miss Volleyball, you see, had a practice at 8:30, and at the rate we were going, she’d be late 🙂

Now I know why I never do the whole Option B workout – it took me over an hour and a half in total, including the warm-up, instruction, speed-work and cool-down to get it done. Usually I do a few repeats, look at the clock, and start the cool-down 45 minutes into the run, whether I’m done or not. No one is paying me to do this. No one is grading me on it. Whether I do it or not is purely up to my own determination. Last night I felt great, and had absolutely no excuse to reign myself in early, so I did it ALL.

At one point I discovered a drawback to instructing a newbie in the art of speed repeats. Tanya, a veteran of an Ultra last summer, is fairly new to this kind of training, so in between the distances I explained to her how we’re supposed to try to maintain a constant, challenging speed for each distance, with as little surging as possible. Tanya and I ran every repeat lap for lap together. In the last rung of the ladder, the second 600m, she busted me for speeding up over the last 200m. I just wanted to get it DONE!

Not that I hate repeats like some runners do (yet). Sometimes during these I just feel like if I don’t run faster, I’m going to just stop or fall over. Do you ever get that feeling?

I was pretty wiped by the time I got home, and very, very grateful to Band Boy, who made brownies while I was out. I snacked, had a bath, and was too tired to even read e-mail before hitting the sack. I attributed my grumpier-than-usual feelings this morning to fatigue from the work-out, but I’m glad I gave it the extra effort last night.



  1. Ah yes. Zone 5. The THOUGHT of talking makes it harder to breathe. Did you get a ‘rest’ time defined? It really shortens the workout when you only get X minutes to rest between intervals.

  2. having just begun speed work and never going beyond 400m, I applaud your efforts. 1000m! is that 2.5 times around the track. I think I would just collapse at the end of that. Again, good job!


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