Monday, March 05, 2007

The Dirty Dozen


Simply put, the single hardest track work-out I can ever remember. At least in twenty-five or so years...

On Sunday I went up to the Brockton Oval dirt track (mud, actually - and standing water in puddles too big to leap) and did twelve one-mile repeats. It was about fifty degrees with a cold breeze coming in off the water in Coal Harbour. Dark grey clouds threatened to rain at any moment.

The work-out itself took over two and a half hours to complete and at the end I was gutted. Nothing left. Empty.

Afterwards, I was covered in mud up to my ass and my feet were soaked. My runners were unrecognizable as footwear and my hands and legs were bright red as my body funneled all its blood away from its extremities to the core and my quads.

It seems a great shame that a town with as great and storied a reputation for outdoor activity and a leisure lifestyle such as is boasted by Vancouver, offers such poor athletic facilities. Honestly, how much trouble would it take for a town that is going to be hosting the Winter Olympics in 2010 to have a decent outdoor fucking track?

My first job when arriving at the Brockton Oval on Sunday morning was to do a walk-around of the track and remove the debris, wind blown branches, beer cans, Powerade and Gatorade bottles and various other detrius - most of it I am sure courtesy of the rugby clubs which use the infield. The kind of self-absorbed athletes who, when arriving at the track, stand on it, oblivious to all the people actually running around it...

Is there a dumber creature on the face of the earth than a rugby player?

I digress.

Twelve one-mile repeats require a strange combination of focus and the ability to tune out the pain of running through lactic-acid engorged leg muscles. This time I was smart enough to brings some gels and two litres of water. I think it helped a great deal.

I had enormous difficulty finding a steady pace; thousands upon thousands of starting block starts in my distant youth still ingraining in me a tendency to bolt out at the start of every fresh mile. I would curb myself in and then try and find a 7:10 pace. Much harder than it sounds and if you examine my heart rate charts, I don't think I ever succeeded.

After half a dozen repeats I still had six more to go. At the end I was just trying to hang on as my legs began to tie up and cramp. The last four repeats I maight as well have been running on wooden stumps. I found myself using all of my imagination to try and find ways to make each mile repeat stand out and become interesting, dreaming up all kinds of improbable scenarios of me surging to the finish line in Boston for a personal best.

One lap into the final mile and I thought I was going to have to drop out with muscle spasms, but I looked down at my S625X Polar Heart Rate Monitor - in astonishment - and I was still doing a 6:50 pace so I sucked it up and finished the mile. I couldn't stand at the end, and sucked in oxygen bent over at the waist, my hands on my knees.

Afterwards I could barely jog back to my car.

This work-out is the closest I have ever come to experiencing the conditions present in the last ten kilometres of a marathon, so I can see that it has real and tangible benefits. I am already dreading the idea of doing 14 and then 16 repeats.

But I can already see that I will be stronger and fitter for having done them.

The price we pay for glory... Posted by Picasa


Anonymous Anonymous said...

12 x 1 mile is fairly insane. By the look of it you're running about 10k race pace and jogging for a few minutes in between. I do some 6 x 1 miles and that is killer enough. Is this part of Jeff's schedule? Seems a bit harder.

5:57:00 PM  
Blogger Vince Hemingson said...

Yes, this is coming straight from Jeff Galloway.

And serious isn't the half of it...


3:57:00 PM  

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