Wow. track workouts are very difficult. I didn’t grow up running, I found running at age 35 when I needed to find an activity I could do alone and at odd times of the day. I didn’t want to join a gym or buy any expensive home equipment. Well, back then I wasn’t interested in those things. It’s actually kind of funny to sit here now and remember those early running days. Of course, as every runner will tell you, it starts with the inability to run even a quarter of a mile without stopping. It graduates to one half of a mile. And then, gloriously, a whole mile is run. This takes time. At least, it took me quite some time. Once I could run three miles without stopping I started entering 5K races. Of course, the rest, as the proverbial saying goes, is history.
I caught the running bug. It just got in my veins and I loved it. I placed in my age group at races, I qualified for my hometown marathon, and I was loving every moment of it. That is, of course, until I started experiencing overuse injuries. This is when I knew I had to bite the bullet and do what all of the running articles I had been reading suggested: cross train, strength train, and foam roll. I began to do weighted squats, lunges, donkey kicks, planking and foam rolling. I started yoga and I got back to lap swimming. All of these things helped to build the muscles that weren’t being built by running alone: namely my gluteus, hamstrings, & core. I know, in my heart of hearts, that if I could solely run without doing all of these extra things and stay healthy, I would. But, I learned my lesson the hard way, and I digress.
Now that I have completed a full marathon and I’m training for my second full marathon, I realize that as of late I have been more fixated on the distance of my runs and not on my speed. I casually mentioned this to the girls track & cross country coach at my school where I serve as librarian, and before I knew it she was hooking me up with a coach that comes out and trains her girls.
I attended a practice and met the coach. My intention was to introduce myself and meet the coach, but more importantly, I wanted to scope out the practice. I got a really good feeling about Coach Ivory within the first few moments of speaking with him. As I left him that afternoon at practice I called out over my shoulder, “Well, I’ll come play with ya’ll Monday.” His response over the fence was, “You better hope that library isn’t upstairs.” We all laughed and I headed home.
The first day of track practice was brutal. He had us not only sprinting around the track, but skipping forwards and backwards. He had us pushing hurdles and pulling hurdles. He had us lunging around the track. We ran bleachers with medicine balls. At one point during the workout I glanced over at Coach Ivory a bit forlorn looking and he said, “You just thought you were in shape, didn’t you?”
Yes, Coach Ivory. I really thought I was in tip-top physical condition. I run 25-35 miles a week. I swim one day a week for 45 minutes. I practice yoga for an hour once a week. I lift weights at the gym once a week and I use dumbbells for strength training at home for 45 minutes a week. But Coach Ivory is having me use my muscles in different ways. And, he is having me sprint. I haven’t worked on speed in regards to my running in quite some time. As of late, I’ve been complacent. I’ve been putting it in cruise control and enjoying slow, long runs.
I’ve been letting Coach Ivory abuse me now for about four weeks. We practice Monday through Thursday for nearly three hours each session. It is very difficult, but it is also very rewarding. I’m running with girls that are between 15 and 18 years old. The football, baseball, softball, basketball, and soccer teams and their coaches come out at various periods during our workouts to complete their own workouts. This means that I often have quite an audience. My goal is always to blend in. The coaches are my colleagues, and this always feels a bit funny for me when they come out to the track. But, isn’t that what life is all about? Taking risks, regardless of how silly we might look.