The Longest Sprint

8 Aug

This morning, I came within 2 seconds of my 400 meter personal record.  I think, had I seen the split before I left the track, I could have at least tied the PR.  At any rate, I was just happy to have my fastest lap of the year today.  I don’t know what was different, exactly, but for reference purposes, I’ll say how it happened today.  Maybe I wrote about this last year and forgot to look it up to see how it happened.

family

I hate stretching.  When I get to the track to run, one] I want to run, two] it’s too chilly to stand still, and three] I want to get off the track before a bunch of other runners get there.  But stretching is important, so I’m told.  So I’ve begun to stretch every night before bed.  This also serves as a relaxation, de-stressing technique.  I do 5-15 minutes of stretching before bed.

uphill battle

Warming up.  I also don’t like to warm up.  I want to get straight to the timed portions of my run and work on my goals.  I accidentally found that the first three laps, whether they be a timed mile or a slow run/walk are the tightest. My muscles are tense, making my speed slower and I feel like injuries are a real possibility.  So, only because my mile was slow if I did it first, I have started running a gentle (2+ min/lap) 400-800.  This morning it felt pretty good to run a regular, 2 min first lap, where I noticed the wind direction, then a really slow 300 m to adjust my headphones, music, clothes, and breathing.  Then, I walked the last 100m up to my timed splits.

I made sure to make my start-finish line the stretch of the track where the wind was at my back for the final 100m, mostly for mental reasons.  Then, I ran the fastest 400m I could muster,  And my trick was this:  60m (60% of the first turn) was a full out, up on my toes, accelerating sprint.  Then, I consciously relaxed and stopped accelerating, in what I hoped to approximate a float for the next 40-90m (depending on my tiredness).  Then, I went flat-footed for the rest of that first 200m (probably 50-60m most of the time).  At the beginning of the 200m mark, I tried to regain some steam and forced myself to get back on my toes.  This quickened my pace (and hastened my fatigue) just slightly.  At about the 250m mark, I concentrated on taking long steps, using my arms, and keeping my head up.  Then, for the final stretch, I just tried to go big, sprint as much as I could, and yelled mentally encouraging phrases in my head such as, “Why go at all, if you don’t go hard?” and “You made it out here, don’t waste this lap by NOT getting the PR.”  And other such Pintrest motivational quotes.  Also, I imagined every competitive 400m race I ever ran where the final stretch (where you’re trying not to flop on the track in fatigue) was right in front of the grand-stands.  And remembering the feeling of wanting to look strong and finish hard for the cheering crowd.

mia hamm

Tomorrow, I want that 400m PR so bad I can taste it.  So I’m going to head out after work and get it.  No matter how terrible or long my day ends up.

 

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