Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getting Ready for a 5k

We are now in Thanksgiving week!  In high school that meant trying not to eat too much on Thursday before Footlocker Regionals on Saturday, and in college it means a nice break week for everyone after the NCAA national meet.  This year, my Thanksgiving week is a little different.  I won't be eating half a pumpkin pie or lying on the couch watching football all day this weekend, and I won't be jogging around like I have the past several years.  Instead, I'm in the middle an intense training block, preparing for a hot 5k in Bloomington on December 7th.

After Diego Estrada famously got his indoor 5000 auto qualifying time last year (13:39.54) at the Hoosier Invite in Indiana, I think a few others have caught on to the great idea he had: extend your cross country fitness a few extra weeks (in this case, 20 days) and use it to get your 5k qualifying race out of the way.  I've heard rumors that top runners from Oklahoma State, Indiana, NC State and others will toe the line on December 7th to go for a time.  Unlike them, I didn't run cross country this season, but I'm planning on hitching a ride with the goal of running 13:45.  There isn't an auto time anymore; starting this year the NCAA will simply take the top 16 athletes in each event, but we figure the time required will wind up being about the same anyway, especially for the 5k, a slightly less popular event indoors.

If the race goes as planned, I'll have a more diverse set of options when it comes time to declare for the national meet.  My favorite indoor event is the 3000, but if things at other meets don't go as planned, I'll potentially have that 5000 time in my pocket.  It's a nice bit of insurance.
Doing some threshold work at camp Mabry in Austin, TX

Training hard for a meet in early December involves a delicate balance between getting prepared to race and making sure I save my legs for the spring and summer.  My ultimate goal of reaching peak fitness in July and August means my fall training has been strength based, but lately I've been doing some mixed workouts that additionally develop the anaerobic and speed systems.  A 7 mile tempo followed shortly by a 2k at 5k pace, or three sets of 3 x 800 with 1 minute rest at 5k pace w/ three minutes between sets are tough workouts that simulate the final minutes of a 5000.  Most runners don't do these kinds of workouts in the fall, but I'm not worried about overworking myself: I'm doing things my body has done before.

Most of all, I'm excited to finally pull on the Texas uniform, spike up, psych up, and roll around the track with a great field of athletes.  After all these years of being a runner, I've realized that it's really all about enjoying training and competing.  No need to be absolutely amazing every day: since that isn't sustainable.  It's about being good every day to become great.  I call this the "happiness theorem", and I could write a book about it, but I'll start with just a future blog...

By the way, I finally have a bio on the Texas athletics site, pretty excited about that.  Check it out here!

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