Running with Runners

A month ago, I wrote about my excitement over getting back on the bike and riding again. Unfortunately, my elation was short lived. As each week progressed, my discomfort on the bike was more noticeable, culminating in some very painful rides. I tried many variations of bike positions and bikes to no avail. My ribs are just not yet ready to ride a bike.

I have taken this disappointment in stride. What else can I do? I am throwing myself whole heartedly into running and I am still swimming. The would-be biking time has been easily filled with other non-sporting activities.

A large part of my involvement in sport is the social aspect. I decided that joining a running group would help fill that void. My experience in San Diego with the Running Republic of Boulder was very positive, so I decided to run with them on a more regular basis.

Running with runners is a very different experience than running with triathletes. Apart from the actual running motion itself, it is two entirely different entities. Runners are not balancing three sports and are doing fewer workouts each week. This makes a very big difference in the execution of the key workouts.

Let me take, as an example, the track workout I did on Saturday:

We met at the track at 8am. The whole group warmed up together for 20 min. We started at a very pedestrian pace. We reconvened back on the track for 10 minutes of dynamic stretching. After stretching we did some strides. The workout was explained and off we went. In between the reps we had some rest in which we could walk, jog slowly, take a sip of water, and catch some air. After the workout we jogged a very easy warm down. In total, the workout lasted over 90 minutes.

Now, let me describe track workouts with triathletes:

We run to the track like we are being poked with a cattle prod. Once on the track, we start the workout immediately (unless someone needs a potty break, and then we wait). In between the reps, we jog the recovery and then go right into the next rep without a break. I never feel like my heart rate is quite low enough. The workout is over in breakneck speed and we run back to the car at a much too fast pace. There is just enough time to grab a quick bite to eat before the next workout. Phew, it is exhausting.

Treating a speed session as its own entity and savoring the experience rather than dashing through it on the way to the next thing has great advantages. The proper warm up and stretching routine allows for better recovery from the workout. Using the rest time as true rest and stopping to take a breather lead to faster times. The less manic approach to the workout makes it more enjoyable.

The next time you set out for a key run session give yourself enough time to properly carry out the workout. The extra time spent will pay dividends in performance and recovery.

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3 Responses

  1. Jimmy Archer says:

    So true. I guess, ultimately, this is why I do my run workouts on my own. It must be my running background. It's funny, triathletes seem to put all the effort into all the pieces of the workout that are secondary or preparation, then when they should be running fast they are either tired or have not speed range.

    The tri way seems to lead to a one gear type of athlete. Completely defeats the purpose.

  2. Kiet says:

    We run to the track like we are being poked with a cattle prod.

    Got busted for reading your blog while at work when I LOL'd at this sentence and paragraph.

  3. The Dude says:

    Nice to hear your take on this. I recently started a fledgling interval group on Tues. mornings, so I can use all the help I can get!