Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Learning to suffer

Last night saw me attend my first track session, post lactate retest.

My orders from #runboss Dave Tune of Blizard Physio were quite simple. Get my heartrate (HR) up to Z3 and keep it there.

That meant at the start of each rep increasing my effort until my HR hit the magic number of 166 BPM.

My zone 3 HR is between 166 and 185 BPM which gives me quite a wide range to suffer in.

Last night I decided to just stay in Z3, I wasn't bothered if my HR was 167 BPM or 184 BPM. The zone was what was important.

As soon as my HR passed 166 BPM I backed off ever so slightly and didn't keep pushing the pace so as to stabilise my HR.

The session last night was 3 sets of 1200m with 1 min recovery followed by 800m with 1 min recovery followed by 400m with a recovery lap of the track at super slow pace to finish.

In the first set I felt strong and surprised the people I usually run with by how quick I was going. My first rep of 1200 was at 6:42/mile pace. Whoa where did that come from?

I completed the first set without incident (apart from being in pain and breathing like a 90 year old with emphysema) and kept my HR in the right zone.

On the second set I was starting to struggle mentally. I wanted the pain and suffering to be over but had a word with myself during my second 800m. I knew my body was capable of enduring the suffering as I had proved that in the first set. So after a mental asskicking of my bad thoughts, I persevered onwards. Afterall I had completed over half the main set at this point.

The quote from Chrissie Wellington and accompanying picture were shamelessly stolen from @TriMotivation's Twitter feed but seem fitting to how I felt last night.
So onwards we went with each rep my HR being above 166 BPM after the first 200/250m had been completed.

I felt such a sense of pride in what I was achieving, I was literally learning to suffer. Last night was important as I proved to myself that I have the mental strength to suffer. Before this I didn't know if I did. The previous sessions at track have hurt physically but I always backed off when my head got involved. Last night was different, I silenced my demons and showed them who’s boss.

I have seen some people perform in a different plane during my time watching triathlon and last night I think I know how they get there, by learning to suffer. One example which springs to mind is Jane Hansom at the World Championship in London last year. She was in different place to other people mentally and was not aware of people (me) cheering her on. If I can harness this ability like I started to last night then who knows what I can achieve.

Each rep last night was completed at sub 7:17/mi pace with the best pace achieved being 6:24/mi. Given my reps previously have been between 7:20/mi and 8:00/mi, this is a huge leap forward but shows that previously my head has been in control as my body is capable of a lot more. No longer, my body will dictate the pace at track and in races in the future.

As Dave Tune says the worst that will happen is I will pass out. Bring on the pain and suffering.
Thanks to Dave and everyone at Blizard for their help in learning to suffer and improve me as an athlete.

Despite being knackered, I then followed this up with nearly 2km of speedwork and technique drills with Doncaster Triathlon Club at the pool. These hurt a lot after my efforts at track but are miles banked and I was pleased to complete most of the set despite cramp taking a hold on some reps.

Thanks for reading,


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