I think it was last November when I kind of hit the wall. Sore shins, then a cold, then flu, then a bad back, then a bad neck - which made my back worse. I was all revved up for world domination (read, another sub 18 minute 5k) when I found myself taking a 6 month break.
So, after baby steps, and having just returned from Connecticut where running is like doing something really tiring (like running) in a sauna, leaving my family behind, I found myself able to finally contemplate a return to Chris Elson’s “intermediate group” up at Coombe Dingle. Chris is one of the Bristol & West AC crew. I don’t think he runs now, but he does lots of coaching, and he’s a jolly nice guy.
What is interval training? Is this the same as speed work? Don’t ask me. But as far as I can tell, it involves doing shorter, faster periods of running with little rests in between.
You should try it. It’s pretty good fun, if you are sick in the head or want to get faster - probably both.
In the past, I’ve found doing these sessions quickly makes a BIG difference to my race times - be that a 5k or a half marathon. I think the theory is you are training your muscles to work more efficiently at speed, without making it a ball-ache for your heart and lungs. I would also say it makes me MUCH more confident to go faster - one becomes more blase about the fear, the slightly panicky, “oh jesus I might die if I carry on like this” thing, which isn’t really a helpful attitude if you want to go a bit faster.
Well, that’s how it is for me. But I don’t mean to make it sound like a big deal. I would recommend it for anyone who is thinking things like, “I hope I can do the Bristol Half Marathon a bit faster this year. Honestly - you’d be surprised. I know you are out there. I see your tweets.
So, tonight we did longer “reps” (as we say) than I’ve been familiar with. We did: 800m, 1600m, 800m, 1600m, with a fair bit of gentle jogging (that’s walking but going up and down more) before, during, and after.
This was all a short jog from Coombe Dingle, at Coombe Lodge. Never been there before - peaceful, lots of lush grass, and about a mile in circumference. Nice people too.
I went with the slower group, took it easy to start and as my confidence grew, went faster.
The point is, it felt really good. Warm summer’s evening, that tired feeling in the legs - different to a normal long run. Sweating. Breathing. I love it.