Sunday, 27 December 2009

The magic of group training

One of the great things about the holidays down here in the west is that people 'come home' for christmas which means a good sized training group and competitive local races. Its a complete contrast to when I lived in London when a mass exodus made training a pretty lonely experience at times.

So last tuesday we were on the track for the first time in a while (too icy and dangerous on the grass). During the winter we would normally do about one week in four on the track, the rest of the time we use a variety of grass circuits for our tuesday club workouts at Wells. This helps us avoid clock watching and trying to race the sessions which is always a danger on the track.

And we had a great evening. There were 8 of us running between 12 and 20 reps of 400m with just a 100m 'float' recovery. Its ages since i've run in a group that size on the track - I probably have to go back as far as a BMC 5000m race at Solihull in summer 2007 for the last time. The beauty of the group is several. Its warmer for a start on freezing winter night ! But seriously, getting to share the pacemaking duties means that you only have to lead a few reps when you can be totally focused on the pace. For the other reps you can sit in and concentrate on keeping relaxed - and the key to racing really fast is to be able to run relaxed at speed. And you also get the experience of running in close proximity to other runners, a skill which seems to be sadly lacking in many races these days.

Of course many runners want to do their own session and hate the thought of compromise to fit in with others and the reality is that at this time of year being flexible with your workout isn't really a compromise at all. The benefits far outweigh any perceived loss. For me on tuesday it was simply a case of running an extra four reps when the main group was done. You have got recovery, rep length and number of reps to play around with if you keep the speed the same as the rest of your group - thats plenty of scope for creativity !

1 comment:

Bryn R said...

Never understood why you can go down to the track and see 3 different small groups running near identical sessions and none of them training together but each. Or alternatively one large group but with everyone running such different paces that they're all strung out around the track getting no benefit whatsoever.

What we've been doing is just having the faster guys do something longer and the slower guys tagging in and out. Good example was when I did 3 x 3.6km with a lap jog recovery. Two guys I was running with weren't in the shape to keep up so instead they did a mile, skipped a lap, then did another mile so they got 6 x mile with alternating 80/120 second recoveries and I had company for the whole session.