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Back at last! I have been struggling to decide whether or not I was ready to compete on the track. I have had some gratifying interval speed workouts at my goal 800 meter race pace, but every time I reduced the rest interval between my speed repeats, my heart rate really jumped up and would not drop to an acceptable level when I reached the end of the rest interval, before the next repeat. I would have to extend the length of the rest interval until my heart rate was at an acceptable level. I expect this to happen at the end of the workout, but this was happening after only a few repeats with the shorter rest between them.
Eventually I decided to run a 600 meter time trial at my goal 800 meter race pace. I felt good during the first 200 meters, but I was quite a bit slower than my race pace. I began to struggle during the second 200 meters, which was slower than the first 200. The final 200 was a bit faster, but I not as fast as I thought I was going!
Anyway, I was well off my goal 800 meter race pace, which I needed to achieve to qualify for the 2015 Senior Games. I decided not to compete in the qualifying Games this month, but rather continue to train in my steady, gradual, injury- free way. I’ll race only when I feel ready, hopefully by next Spring. It is difficult indeed to accept that the recovery time after surgery and the recovery time after strenuous workouts get longer and longer as we age. What helps keep me exercising though, is that I still love to run, my blood pressure and heart rate are low, and my overall health is very good.
Since I have made the decision to delay competing, my workouts are less stressful, probably because I am more relaxed. I remember when Roger Bannister’s advisor Franz Stampfl shouted “relax” during the second lap of the first Four Minute Mile. Bannister wrote that he did immediately relax, so much so that his mind seemed separated from his body. He felt no strain. This is probably why he was the first person to break the Four Minute Mile. Sometimes I am able to experience this relaxed state when I am training. The trick will be to achieve it when I am racing.
I just did a 200 meter interval workout, focusing on staying relaxed. I warmed up slowly, keeping my heart rate below 110. Then I did about 8 minutes of easy stretching, followed by 2 x 20 step fast (but relaxed) strides, with 1 minute rest between, then rested 1 minute and 30 seconds and did 1 x 44 step fast strides, relaxed, not straining. The interesting thing was these fast stride times were virtually the same versus in my previous workouts, when I was straining and tense.
I planned to do 4 x 200 meter repeats at a pace I could maintain for all four. I did the first one successfully relaxing, without straining, and my peak heart rate was 146. Surprisingly, the time was at my planned 800 meter race pace. I hoped I would be able to reduce my rest interval from my normal 2 minutes to only 1 minute. My heart rate was still above 130 after 1 minute, so I rested 2 minutes, when my heart rate dropped to 118. I did all the 3 remain repeats at a pace within 1 second the first repeat, resting 2 minutes between each. My heart rate reached a peak of 162 during the fourth repeat, but during last week’s interval workout, my heart rate reached a peak of 202-a bit scary.
For a little while I thought about going to Florida next month to try to qualify for the 2015 National Senior Games. But then reason prevailed. I had enjoyed my intervals for the first time in ages because I ran relaxed most of the time. I believe I need to log a lot more relaxed training and race in low pressure All Comers events before I add the stress of national competition. Perhaps I’ll feel differently next year.
Thanks for being with me today, and I hope you find some helpful takeaways from my experience.