The Turkey Trot.
The race that would either validate this training, or prove I spent six weeks dragging around a heavy sled for no good reason. The final verdict: six weeks of sled pulls and other strength training did not improve my 5k time. In fact, this is the lowest 5k I’ve run in 3 years…
I ran the same 5k in 2009 and finished in 22:22, just five seconds slower but that race was run when I did ZERO speed work and had no strategy for running. In fact my strategy then was “go out and run”. Which isn’t a bad strategy per se, just not a very focused one in terms of meeting certain goals.
Thursday morning brought cold temps, it was around 35 when I parked my car and headed to grab my race bib. I changed inside, losing my pants in favor of shorts and ditching my fleece. I stayed inside till 7:40am, then ran to my car and ditched my clothes. I spent the next 15 minutes warming up and my legs felt loose and warm when I toed up to the line at 7:55.
I found my friends Justin and John at the start and we hugged hello just before the gun went off. Justin surged ahead and John was right on my heels. I went out feeling pretty good but not like I was flying. As I approached the one mile marker I looked down at my watch and realized why I felt that way – I wasn’t flying. My first mile was clocked at 6:55. Knowing a PR was unlikely to happen I just kept moving forward. The course had some hills but nothing major, enough to feel them but not long enough to curse them. John passed me just after mile one and as I approached the mile two marker I looked at my watch. My second mile was much slower, about 7:30. I leaned forward, trying to push my legs even though my quads weren’t cooperating. My turnover wasn’t fast and I just couldn’t get my legs to move faster. I hit the mile three marker and didn’t bother looking at my watch, I just pushed into the finish, taking the downhill as best I could and crossing at 22:17.
I’m not overly disappointed, after all, I’ve spent six weeks trashing my legs with heavy, hard, focused workouts. I was left sore and exhausted, my muscles screaming with every step on the day after a workout. And they were good, hard workouts. Workouts I really liked and enjoyed. But having sore, tired muscles the next day doesn’t necessarily translate into increased speed. It just means I did a hard workout that fatigued my muscles. And while I think this would be great cross training, I don’t believe it makes you a faster runner, at least it doesn’t make me a faster runner. There may be others out there who can do a workout that doesn’t involve running and still go out and run fast races, but for me, I have to practice running faster to know how to run faster.
So now the turkey trot is over and that workout routine is over. I plan on incorporating some of the things I did in the last six weeks into my usual routine. Tabatas are brutal workouts that are great and leave you feeling like you worked really hard – how’s that for an oxymoron-filled sentence? And strength training my legs is key in running strong. But as I kick off marathon training I’ll turn my focus back to what I love: running.