Tonight was a rare treat to train in the evening under lights at our local track, the Hunter Sports Centre. There is something special about running track; everything feels different, lighter, easier and faster. Growing up in the central west of NSW my experience of track was the lumpy grass cricket and rugby ground called Spicer Oval in Parkes. This was where I first discovered I could run when at the conclusion of my first night of Little Athletics, Aged 9, the entire group was asked to run the 800m. All the kids groaned unapprovingly but me being ignorant to the event lined up motivated to remove the unpleasant memories of shot put, high jump and the 100m.
Taking off like a scalded cat I thought it was strange that nobody was in front of me half way around the first lap. Not daring to look behind I continued to the finish line where there appeared to be some mild interest from the adults who waved me on for the second lap. Finishing well ahead of the next kid, my mate James Campesi (who later took to race walking) I had done it. I had actually discovered something I was good at! My life would never be the same again. I became more confident, outgoing and even, in time, better at maths too!
Some might say that I had â€œdiscovered the inner Kenyan!â€
Tonight’s workout of 2 sets of 8 x 300m is borrowed from my favourite Kenyan athlete, Bernard Lagat. In my humble opinion Lagat is the fittest looking human alive and finishes every race like it could be his last. He is a magnificent athlete with multiple world championships medals as well as Olympic Bronze (Sydney) and Silver (Athens) medals in 1500m. Did I also mention he is 41!
The ’Lagat workout’ makes a great change from long runs and big sessions. I run the 300m at a pace a lot faster than my marathon pace but obviously a lot slower than Bernard Lagat (in fact a never got close to training partners Bridey Delaney or Tia Brady tonight!). but it has a terrific affect in training the neuro-muscular system such that my efficiency at all the other training intensities is much improved. If there is one missing component of training programs for the recreational runner it would be ’controlled speed’ sessions that improve running efficiency.
I am glad that I discovered the athletics track at an early age and am also glad that it remains important for me today. The athletics track is not only for the top tier of our sport, they can be used by everyone.
Maybe it’s time to â€œdiscover the inner Kenyan?â€