Peddling to Find my Maximum

To offer myself a variation from solely endurance work I felt I needed to include interval training.
So I prepared myself for short sprints on my turbo trainer early this evening.
I used no music or audiobook to keep me motivated or distracted.

Instead I focused on peddling fast.
I set myself a straightforward workout of 10 x 30 seconds with 1 minute recoveries.
All I knew was I would sweat.

I got my head down and powered the pedals down and back.
After the first interval my breathing was heavy and my core temperature had risen.
The minute of easy cycling afterwards felt fine, although it passed quickly.
I tried to stay to a rhythm for each interval.
My long hair flapped in my face, but I ignored it and blew out hard.

My quad and calf muscles were heavy but I knew I could finish strong.
I checked my speed several times to ensure my effort matched the output.
None of my 30 second bursts fell below 32 mph.
The maximum speed recorded was 35.5 mph.

I sweated as much as I do when I cycle for over an hour.
I finished my 15-minute workout with a short walk, exhausted but satisfied.




Reasons to Run a Mile Fast

In his book Lore of Running Tim Noakes explains that runners who are fast at short distances will very likely be fast at longer distances (assuming specific training is undertaken). It is therefore unrealistic to believe a runner can beat another at any endurance event if they cannot overcome them over distances from the mile up to the 10k. This is based on diminishing returns and fatigue resistance as the maximum pace a runner can maintain for longer will inevitably decrease (though not necessarily by a significant margin).

Although intuitive, it is not necessarily widely practiced by recreational road runners.

Noakes advises runners to focus on realising one’s potential at shorter distances before running further. This theory has been successfully applied by many elite athletes, including the Daniel Komen, Emil Zátopek, and ultramarathon legends Ann Trason and Yiannis Kouros. Also, well-established race time predictions are based on actual results for relatively short races.

Former top ultrarunner and now-experienced coach Norrie Williamson in his book Everyone’s Guide to Distance Running echoes Noakes’ advice. Every runner must accept that all distances are important because any errors in running form or mindset will increase in magnitude as the distance progresses.

Despite the logic, it is important to experiment to find a balance between speed and volume in training, and short- and long-term ambitions.

I feel it is time in my running career to embrace distances up to the mile, after many years of focusing on improving my half marathon and marathon performances. I expect that throughout my challenge I will reminisce on my high school track career

The training and time trials will test me in new ways and my desire to be a sub 5-minute miler is strong, especially as I am tantalisingly close already…

My Fast One Mile Challenge

The mile, as a race, is an intriguing distance. It is the fundamental unit of measure that all road races are built upon, and yet is often forgotten as a test of overall fitness and assessment of progress towards other goals.

I first considered running a fast mile away from the track in early 2016 when, for the first time, I changed the settings on my Garmin sports watch to record mile splits.

I clocked 5:48.39. In subsequent months I lowered my best time to 5:38.41, 5:36.97 then 5:30.68, until in August 2016 I recorded four sub 5:30 miles, establishing my personal best as 5:08.41 (on the 22nd of that month).

Although I have since run numerous sub 6:00 miles, including in races such as the Witham May Day 5 Miler and Hardwick 10km, I have not managed to come any closer to the 5:00 mark. This is due in part to my reluctance to train specifically for the distance, instead preferring to use the distance (and shorter intervals such as quarter-mile, half-mile and three-quarter-mile) as repetitions during my speed workouts, for improving my performances at longer races.

In November 2017, after realising I had accumulated over 110 sub 6:00 miles in less than two years, I set myself an ambitious goal. For the first time in my running career I intend to focus solely on improving my one-mile personal record. I first took four weeks rest after my fourth Chelmsford Marathon in October 2017, then spent six weeks base training in preparation for my challenge.

My intention is to now train for 12 weeks, culminating in a time trial in the last week of March 2018 to compare my progress. I will use a local park as my ‘track’ and remind myself of why I am pursuing this life-time goal.

I ran 5:26.93 (my eighth current best time) on 30th December 2017 as a starting point for my challenge.