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Middle distance (800, 1600, 3200) race problem diagnosis for a relatively inexperienced track racer. (Read 114 times)

II Run II


    I'll try to articulate this the best I can, but sorry if anything sounds confusing...

    Also, I posted this here to get varied view points from people other than my coach and teammates.  Moreover, I feel that as of right now, they just assume that I'm not a super strong runner, but I want to be better than that.  I hope you can understand the predicament.

     

    Anyway,

    I seem to have a "problem" with racing.   I'm having trouble with consistency and just not hitting my expected times.

    For the most part, if this is relevant, I can run comfortably with the top runners on my team during the long distance recovery runs, and barely manage on the speed workouts (but these guys also run ~1 minute, or a bit more, in races).  I also started off the season fairly strong, progressing from (in an indoor track, which apparently makes you slower than on an outdoor track?) a 6:00 to 5:49 to a 5:41 for the 1600 potentially setting me up to break 5 by the end of the season (I hope).  Also, on the day I ran the 5:41 1600, I followed with a 2:35 800.  However, I recently had a 2 mile race (which was outdoors, meaning ideally, would be faster than indoors), which I did absolutely terribly on.  I don't know my time (I will soon), but I would estimate a 12:50, if not over 13 (which, after ~1 year of training, is equal to my last year's time); I do know that many of my teammates which I consistently beat in the 1600s/800 managed to beat me in the 3200.  Also, if this is relevant, this was the first 3200 of my season.

     

    Could anyone tell me possible problems and good ways to fix such issues?  After a decent off-season  I really want to reach the varsity level (or a sub-5 mile) by the end of this season, both of which have been quite an elusive goal.

     

    edit: Although injury/old shoes (my shoes are from the middle of the 2012 XC season) could a/the problem, I don't want to turn to that yet, unless if that could actually be the problem.

     

    Thanks!

      what kind of training have you been doing?  Just a quick outline of:

       

      mileage/week over the past 8 to 12 weeks?

      How many quality days/week?

      What do you do for your quality days?

       

      Frankly, the rationship between your 800m and 1600m time is pretty good. However, you fall off considerably for 2 miles. That tells me you lack endurance.

       

      But, track is an interesting animal for the shorter races in that guys with worse endurance than you can beat you just because they have tons more speed, or are  physically stronger (this is mainly due to the shorter distances than XC). Given that, you need a good combination of speed and endurance to do well.

        Hi! So my HS track days are way, way behind me, but a couple of questions about your post (in addition to the q's that BoilerTom asked, which are also important...)

         

        1. Is there any chance that the recent 3200 was just a bad day? Also, if it was the first outdoor race, maybe you just have to get used to racing outdoors again.

         

        2. You say you have no problem keeping up with the fastest guys on the recovery runs. I remember very well keeping up with the fast girls - sometimes even the guys! - on the recovery runs and then barely hanging onto them in workouts (if at all...). And the races, forget it, they were minutes ahead of me. Why was I so "good" at recovery runs? I was running the recovery runs too fast!  For me, they were not recovery runs at all! What I should have done was forget about keeping up with them and just focused on running the right recovery pace for me. It seems like a minor detail, and believe me I know it feels crappy to feel like you're dragging behind everyone else, but recovery is recovery. It is there to help you run faster the rest of the time. Slow = good. Does this scenario sound familiar? I'm 36 and I just recently figured this out. If you think this might be relevant for you, don't wait 20 years! Do it now!

         

        I'm guessing that if you went straight to outdoor from indoor season, you might need a bit of a break from speedwork and take a few weeks building your endurance, i.e. running more, more slowly. Not sure whether your coach shares that view? I remember what really helped me get better in HS was to do a longer, VERY VERY easy run, more like a jog, on Sundays, which were our only day without team practice or races. The season I started doing that, instead of taking Sundays off, my times dropped considerably.

         

        You've obviously made great progress so far, you have a goal in mind, and you seem really motivated to reach it. These are all good things. Good luck!

        ZZCaptainObvious


          I wouldn't be too worried about the first race of the year, especially since it's longer than what you've been racing. The transition from the 800/1600 to the 3200 is a step up.

           

          You're generally right about indoor being slower than outdoor, but every runner is different. What were the conditions for your 3200? That can affect you.

           

          If you are "keeping up" with the top guys, definitely try going slower. Recovery runs should be very easy, which sounds somewhat paradoxical. But running slower for easy runs means you can run faster in workouts.

           

          Also, you sound driven and excited about running. That will go a long way! I was in a similar situation in high school and I'm still running in college. You're doing the right thing by asking about it. Listen to your coach and keep running.


          Muddling through

            I seem to have a "problem" with racing.   I'm having trouble with consistency and just not hitting my expected times.

            For the most part, if this is relevant, I can keep up with the top runners on my team during the long distance recovery runs, and barely manage on the speed workouts (but these guys also run ~1 minute, or a bit more, in races).  I also started off the season fairly strong, progressing from (in an indoor track, which apparently makes you slower than on an outdoor track?) a 6:00 to 5:49 to a 5:41 for the 1600 potentially setting me up to break 5 by the end of the season (I hope).  Also, on the day I ran the 5:41 1600, I followed with a 2:35 800.  However, I recently had a 2 mile race (which was outdoors, meaning ideally, would be faster than indoors), which I did absolutely terribly on.  I don't know my time (I will soon), but I would estimate a 12:50, if not over 13 (which, after ~1 year of training, is equal to my last year's time); I do know that many of my teammates which I consistently beat in the 1600s/800 managed to beat me in the 3200.

            It sounds like the problem is training too fast, so by the time race day comes you're tired instead of rested. The longer the race, the more you'll see times drop off. I trained like that all through HS on a team good enough to win a state xc title and later set 3 national relay records. Meanwhile my times weren't a whole lot faster than yours. A 5:40 miler shouldn't be training at the same paces as a 4:40 miler. It wasn't until years after HS when I returned to running and trained at paces suitable for me that I really saw what I was capable of running.  Later when I was coaching I made sure I set training paces that would push them without leaving them exhausted.  Describing a workout as one you barely manage is a strong indication that you are running them at race effort. You should be finishing workouts feeling you could do a little more if had to or wanted to, not dead on your feet.

            2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race


            Feeling the growl again

              1)  Sounds like you are racing your workouts.  "Keeping up" with people on recovery runs who are way faster than you in races means you are not doing recovery runs...you are beating yourself down.  You will never get better by putting your effort in the wrong places.  Put your effort into your workouts and truly run easy on the slower days.  You will NOT get better by hammering yourself ever day.  Quite the opposite.

               

              2)  As for people beating you in the 3200 you can beat in shorter races, it may be that you don't have the base to extend your speed to the longer race and they do.  It may be that they are naturally better at the 3200 and you at the 800/1600.  It may be that you are just too tired from racing your recovery runs to do decently on such a long race.

              "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

               

                A.  Don't race your easy workouts.  You'll never get anywhere, trust me.  I didn't figure it out until after many injuries, several years of plateauing, and until years after I'd quit the college team.  Looking at it now I ran some crazy-fast easy runs day after day after day considering what my race times were.

                B.  Did you do the two mile race at the same meet as others?  From experience in high school when I wasn't doing that many miles, I would do the 2 mile relay and the 1600 first....if I had to do the 2 mile too I never ran it well even if I sandbagged one of the two earlier races.

                C.  Especially in running low miles there can be quite a spread between how you stack up in the 800 versus the 2 mile in high school.  I didn't know anyone who was equally competitive in the 800 versus the mile versus the two mile in high school...even our XC state runner of the year I could take in the 800.  And that will change as you mature as a runner.  Over a span of four years I went from my best race being the 800 to my best race being the 5000.

                 

                Being driven and intense as described by CaptainObvious can be a very good thing and drive you to achieve a lot.  But there is a line that you're bumping up against by killing the recovery runs.  If you keep doing it you'll risk burnout and injury...and becoming an ex-runner

                II Run II


                  Sorry the recovery workout part sounded kind of confusing.  The speed workouts are the ones I struggle to keep up with on, but I can run the distance recovery workouts comfortably. (which I think indicates that I have a good endurance base, but my speed endurance for longer distances needs to be worked on- I had a similar problem in cross country, I think).

                   

                  Also, the 3200 conditions were ~40 and slightly windy.

                  II Run II


                    what kind of training have you been doing?  Just a quick outline of:

                     

                    mileage/week over the past 8 to 12 weeks? ~30-40 (possibly high 20s, I didn't really record warm up/cool down distances.

                    How many quality days/week? I'm not sure what quality means, but we do 2 speed workouts a week (if that's what you mean)

                    What do you do for your quality days? 6-2-2, 300-100

                     


                    Feeling the growl again

                      Sorry the recovery workout part sounded kind of confusing.  The speed workouts are the ones I struggle to keep up with on, but I can run the distance recovery workouts comfortably. (which I think indicates that I have a good endurance base, but my speed endurance for longer distances needs to be worked on- I had a similar problem in cross country, I think).

                       

                      Also, the 3200 conditions were ~40 and slightly windy.

                       

                      If you are keeping up with faster racers on recovery runs, and "barely" keeping up with them in speed workouts, you should be "barely" behind them in races.  If this is not the case, you are leaving your races in your workouts and this is why you have nothing left and under-perform at races.  Don't feel bad, this is extremely common (but still wrong) in HS runners.  Once you learn to direct your drive and energy into the right things in running you will be fine.

                       

                      Regarding not having "speed endurance", there are two likely reasons for this:

                      1)  You are starting too fast so you can't hold it.  Hold back more at the start.

                      2)  You simply aren't running enough volume or longer aerobic workouts to develop the strength and endurance to hold the speed.  Do you do any tempo runs, or is your program like too many where you pretty much ran easy (or little at all) in the off season and now you spend most of your time doing intervals?

                      "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                       

                      golddaveberg


                        Stay hungry, getting fast isn't easy.  A lot of people above have disagreed with what I'm about to say, but keep training with fast people, it'll only make you faster.

                         

                        I also like to  pick my big race(s) and train through everything else in the season.  Keep the legs tired (learn the difference between sore and injury) and don't let a bad race mid-season get to you.

                          Stay hungry, getting fast isn't easy.  A lot of people above have disagreed with what I'm about to say, but keep training with fast people, it'll only make you faster.

                           

                          That may work for a while, but it isn't good long term approach. The fact the OP made this post is proof it isn't working for  him,  yes hard training can work, but u can't race well if you aren't recovered.


                          Muddling through

                            Stay hungry, getting fast isn't easy.  A lot of people above have disagreed with what I'm about to say, but keep training with fast people, it'll only make you faster.

                             

                            I also like to  pick my big race(s) and train through everything else in the season.  Keep the legs tired (learn the difference between sore and injury) and don't let a bad race mid-season get to you.

                            I don't think any of us have any objections to the OP training with fast people, only with training at their paces. There's also a difference between training through mid-season races and your advice to keep the legs tired. If you do that, you not only won't race well, you won't train well either. You seem to be missing the whole point of rest and recovery to allow the body to respond to the training stress, adapt and rebuild.

                            2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race

                            scappodaqui


                            rather be sprinting

                              Re: training with fast people.  It is my understanding that SOME workouts will lend themselves better to running hard or nearer to max effort than others.  For instance, if people are doing 1k repeats at 5k pace, but you're barely hanging on for each one, that's not working on the proper energy system.

                               

                              But if you're all sprinting and you happen to have good sprint speed, and it's a workout for strength with full recovery, then you may well hang with the frontrunners, since it seems your speed is better than your endurance.

                               

                              Or am I off base here?

                              PRs: 5k 19:25, mile 5:38, HM 1:30:56

                              Lifting PRs: back squat 176 lb

                              II Run II


                                ^That's actually another point I wish to address-


                                I've actually been told that my endurance is good, but I lack speed-> How would you tell if you're lacking skill in one area (as in, am I doing well in the speed workouts because I'm fast, or because my endurance allows me to hang in there; is there some kind of difference?)

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