Cheating on my running club…

When it comes to running, I tend not to have much of a plan. I have a rough idea of what I want to do in a week and if I have a marathon on the horizon I’ll have my long runs marked out, gradually building up the distance.

Otherwise I work out my runs in general with who else is running when in the week and what parkrun I want to do. I’m really relaxed about it. Previously I’d run all my runs around the same kind of pace as well, usually around 8 minute miles. So really no real structure. I enjoy running this way because, as you probably know, I’m not a PB-hunter. I love getting PB’s of course but realistically I’m not running every race for a time. It kills the fun for me. I find enjoyment in other ways, like collecting different parkruns, doing different marathons and basically just having a doss about.

Part of that is down to me genuinely loving this and part of it is down to not wanting to be too serious or do too much hard training because I’m terrified of injury. I love running and all the benefits I get from it (physical and mental health but also a large social element), and losing that sucks. I do believe I’m injury prone and when I increase my load (higher mileage or harder mileage) I suspect I’m dicing with getting injured. So I’m always reluctant to go too hard or put a lot of hard training into my weeks. I’d rather run slow consistently then run fast sporadically.

That said, I feel like I’m in a good position to think about jazzing things up. While I have more “fun” goals of doing the parkrun Alphabet Challenge, the Marathon Majors and things like that, I would like to get a few times under my (Flip)belt. I’ve now been injury-free for a good number of months and I haven’t had any sort of niggle even slightly raise its head. It’s given me some confidence.

I go to go the gym 3-4 times a week. I work hard to keep my legs, core and glutes strong. I definitely feel the benefits of this when I run, how fast I can recover and just my general mental wellbeing. I enjoy the gym, I enjoy the routine I have and if I did get injured I know the gym is there to tide me over.

So the title of this post… I’ve recently joined Southampton Athletics Club as second claim. This is actually a huge step for me. Southampton Athletics Club is a Serious Club. They do Serious Running. We’re talking track races. Race distances I wouldn’t get out of bed for let alone train for. 800m? Are you kidding me? As a second claim member however I can’t run for Southampton AC. I don’t see this as a bad thing at all. This year I have a number of different races I want to focus on (or at least just do for a bit of fun), and the idea of doing a lot of league races (10ks, cross country, track) just isn’t my bag of fish. Kettle of fish? Bag of…? Whatever, it isn’t my idea of fun. Despite the head coach trying to hard sell the first claim to me, I held firm (he’s a nice guy and though he didn’t quite understand my rationale, he did accept it and was super nice).

I went to a trial speed session down the track last week. DOWN THE TRACK. An actual track. This is literally Out of My Comfort Zone territory (capitals required for full emphasis).

We (thankfully) didn’t train on the track, but stayed on an area of grass near to it. When I arrived after running a 1.5 mile warm-up there, everyone was super friendly. But all fairly young and with lean, mean racing snake physiques. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Proper drills. People in warm-up gear and then stripping off to teeny tiny shorts and vests. Then putting on a different pair of trainers.

I’m literally stood there with my FlipBelt that contained just my phone and car keys. I felt woefully underprepared. The coach asked if I was going to change my shoes… into what? These were all I had! But everyone else was switching into barely there weightless shoes and I was stood there in my adidas Boosts that, in comparison, looked like giant bricks on my feet.

But I didn’t let is phase me. I was there to add a bit of structure and speed into my training. I wasn’t there to change my entire way of running. And you know what? I held my own. Yes I was at the back of the reps but I wasn’t being totally dropped and I felt strong. I mean, it was tough. Physically tougher than had I gone out on my own as I was pushing myself to stay within a distance of the main pack, but mentally easier because of the pack. It was weird.

My first speed session: 5 mins tempo (1min), then 4x 90 secs (1min) then 4x 75 secs (1min), then another 5mins tempo

The coach said afterwards I didn’t look like I was trying hard enough (in a nice way, he wasn’t having a go). I honestly thought I was trying, but he said I should be absolutely spent by the end of the session and I guess I wasn’t. I mean I was tired, but I wasn’t rinsed like everyone else seemed to be. I think this comes with having a good understanding of speedwork and an understanding of your body and the pain barriers you need to push through. I’m a long distance runner by heart so I’m used to plodding miles upon miles in a semi-comfortable state. I’m not used to pushing my body for short bursts to efforts of pain. Not injury pain but lung-busting, muscle burning pain. I’ve shied away from that for a good while.

I came away from the session feeling really happy and motivated. It’s reinforced my mindset of how I currently want to run. Keeping my other running nice and easy (two gentle runs 4-6 miles, and a longer run 10+ miles), and then one speed session and an occasional tough parkrun when I’m feeling fruity. That’s the plan. Who knows how long it will last. It’ll only be my body giving up on me that’ll stop it right now. Fingers crossed, eh.

Do you do speedwork?

Are you a member of a running club?

What motivates you with your running?

4 Replies to “Cheating on my running club…”

  1. I joined my first ever running running club about three weeks ago. I haven’t been to any sessions yet as I’m in a taper period at the moment so don’t want to wreck my legs trying something new. I will be trying out the track and hill sessions later in the summer.
    I’ve never done any of that before – running for me is more about seeing different cities on two feet and having fun – and trying to improve my times, which has become a lower priority recently but I still like aiming for a pb sometimes.
    A couple of weeks ago someone mentioned about the A to Z marathon goal – and now that’s in my head!! Different cities around the world from Adelaide to Zurich sounds fun! I’ve done 6 letters so far!

  2. I think the track session sounds great, but tough. I too tend to steer clear of the really fast pace- I’ll run fast at parkrun but I’ll still be having a conversation with my dad (sometimes one word between breaths but still) so I know I am not pushing that hard, but then the final bit where I do go faster I feel awful. Our running club had a bit of time where we had monthly track sessions but the people who owned the track were rubbish with leaving it unlocked and things, and then it changed hands so it hasn’t happened for a good year now. I did like it because on my own I’d never run that fast.
    Maria @ Maria runs recently posted…Hitchin 10K 2018My Profile

  3. My speedwork is the drills and hills I alternate midweek. It definitely takes time to learn how to really push yourself though. I remember years ago someone telling me I wasn’t trying hard enough. At the time this annoyed me as I really believed I was, but now I know I could have gone much harder. But pushing your limits is intimidating.

    I used to be in a club but I’m not now. The training times didn’t suit me and I felt like there were too many in the club with a “push on through” attitude at times when backing off was more sensible and there was too much pressure to be racing all the time. The club has changed a lot since then, but I’ve never felt tempted to join again. I guess I’m happy doing my own thing and using parkrun for the social aspect.

    I am motivated by improving my running, but I’m also motivated by the processes. I enjoy the training and like to find ways to have fun with it. It doesn’t mean I’m not taking things seriously, but I want my non-running friends to see that running isn’t a “punishment” for something (which many of them seem to believe – you should see their faces when I mention a Christmas Day run!)
    Allison recently posted…Friday Finds – 18th MayMy Profile

  4. This is so exciting! SAC are a serious club and I’ve seen just how amazing some of their athletes are. I’m really looking forward to seeing your running progress because it’s definitely going to!
    Rebecca recently posted…Finally A Good Run!My Profile

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