Posted by: Karen | November 28, 2007

Indoors at the Olympic Oval

Yesterday we awoke to a world covered in shifty, sugary snow and I realized the Roadrunners 10k group would not run outside that night. I joined them by the long jump pit downstairs and we did speed work on the rubberized track.

The snowier it is outside, the more athletes work out inside. As I warmed up on the track around a speed skating class, I watched a track group practice long jump and different pylometric exercises in the extra lanes next to the track. A ski conditioning group did a rotation of floor exercises and took to the bleacher stairs for more variation. A spin class set up and an instructor barked instructions at the sweating cyclists. By the time I was in cool-down mode some girls were learning how to pole vault. Cool, I’ve always wanted to try that.

Our workout involved the usual four laps each (about a mile) to warm up and cool down, bookended around a speed ladder of 600m, 800m and 1200m. For you new runners, this means we ran 600, 800, 1200, 800 and 600m, with short breaks in between to let our heart rates recover. There were markers on the track for each distance.

I judged my pace entirely by perceived effort and my memory of how it should feel. I’m still watchless and I didn’t particularly mind. I knew I was working hard, no matter what a number would have said. On breaks, when others asked about my progress, I made jokes about measuring my workout by the pinkness of my skin.

I don’t think I really found my stride until I was into the third (last) lap of the 1200m distance. Then something clicked and I turned into a machine. I didn’t go any faster, but somehow the gears shifted so that the effort became more automatic. The legs quit complaining and the lungs did their job more efficiently. It was still hard work, but there was finally some momentum. I knew that I could use it to finish the rest of the workout.

A funny, annoying thing happened towards the end of my second 800m. I was in my last 50m and pushing as hard as I could to keep it going, and one of the track group dudes ended up doing a big one-leg hopping exercise right next to me. He hopped on one leg faster than I ran on two (sigh).

In the four lap cool down I knew I’d worked hard on the ladder, because I really didn’t feel like running anymore. I carefully completed all four laps though, because I know a good long cool down means I don’t feel so stiff later. I finished a little late, so continued the jog across campus to my car and picked up soccer boy from practice. I was all sweaty and damp and chilled by the time we got home, but happy I’d worked hard.

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