This is my motto: MENTAL FORTITUDE ! Mind over matter ! Get your head right, get your brain, your mind, your cervo, your central governor under check and that is when magic happens.
Recently I went out for a track workout, what become a very difficult task. I am a trail and ultra trail runner. I have some tough races planned for this season including a 300km run with 20000m of elevation gain, but still I find that fast running is necessary to keep the stride nice, the keep the body turning well and for overall runner’s health ! I enjoy brutal sessions like 15minutes hard downhill with a running pack filled with my track spikes followed by a 2 x 1mile + 2 x 800 + 2 x 400 + 5 x 100 session. However, as I spend a lot of time in the mountains, also life comes across, recovery would be brutally long if I had a session like above every single week. Not even every 10th day. Back in the old days when could sleep 10hours a day and was working as a bike guide, yes I did 2 of these shitshows a week and the recuperation was still epic fast. To keep the stimulus going, I must still engage in speedy running and going for track sessions and rapid intervals, just on a less demanding way. I like including longer recovery times in-between sets and also like having smaller number of repeats.
This was the case a couple of days ago. I planned out a 5 x 400 on 1:10 with 3:00minute recovery. On properly planned occasions, this is a hard but definitely attainable structure. I however felt a little bit off this time, worked hard in the morning and also the weather was playing hot and cold, wind and calm, rain and sun. Very high humidity with a feeling of heavy.
My warming up for track session is not really about running. I jog to the track after a small pilates and mobility routine. I do some drills and after each schooling exercise I run back to the starting point harder and harder with perfect stride, but also before each drill I engage in 40-50 skipping rope rounds. It takes about 20 minutes: sirtaki, hopping, bouncing, lunges, squats, frog jumps, lateral chassé and all kind of educatives . I finish off with my spikes on, following increasing speed and distance from 50meter to 100meter fast running. When doing longer intervals I go up to 200 and 400m at predicted interval pace. When going for a large trackset of 5000 / 3000 / 1500 for instnace, at in-between half-m and 10km pace or as a last hard effort before a road 10km, at actual 10km pace 3 weeks out, I would definitely include some 10 to 15minutes of MAF effort.
This special day, I felt like melting, but having the cold chills too. Half of the track was sunny, the other side is coldish. Then it changed. Then became all cold. Then if you knew the feeling of not being overall hot as clouds are above you, but the UV is hitting your head, even under a cap. Like a microwave oven. It was 99% humidity. After each sprint I had the water flowing from every where on me and got winded. I said to myself, what the heck I am doing here. I was doubting the objective, the goal. However, this morning, I promised myself, that I will never miss a track session ever again. I just have to show up, warm up and if it feels off or I don’t want to do anything, 45minutes of easy drilling at the heart rate of 100 is way better than doing nothing at all.
Not this time ! I went for it. I was suffocating already at the 100m mark, falling apart at 200 and finishing off with jelly legs and feeling of a marathon accomplishment in my legs at 400m. 1:15 ! That is 5seconds off ! Should I go for 10 x 1:15 with 1:15 recovery now or do an up and down time or distance ladder, maybe just stop ? I decided to go for a down ladder with only 2min of recovery, augmenting my pace at each effort.
I decided that from the second interval my only focus will be on increasing my cadence and on having the perfect form ! 1:14 ! It was damn hard. I arrived to 200 at 36.5 what was too fast.
Third. Arriving to 200 at 36.3 was a bad sign, so I ran like a madman to the finish line, but I was afraid I lost. No ! I was down to 1:13 ! Way to go Levi !
Fourth. 35.8 at 200, will blow it ! 1:11 ! Damn ! Instead of 1:12. I nearly dropped dead here from the heat pouring on my head ! 1 sec faster than predicted.
For the last one I wanted to equal my 4th repeat at least, as it was really getting uncomfortable. My quads are acting like they did an ultra ! My breathing however was recovering extremely fast. My body was adapting.
5th. 35.9 at 200. Headwind in second turn, all out sprint in the final straight, doing the Farah. 1:10 !
I did it. Mentally ! Only my head got me through this. Physiologically, especially in case of real speed and neuro-muscular connections, the initial 1:10 x 5 would have been way better, but not quitting and toughing it out thought me more! I am now ready. Feeling like ready to race. Tomorrow I will engage in an evening tune up race of 8kms in the roads of Biot and next week will be a trail half-marathon showdown in Hungary. This morning a final 3km tempo effort will be on the table.
Feeling confident and mentally present !