Intervals challenge local runners

By Gary Droze


Runners generally possess high degrees of individuality and independence. However, many Tallahassee runners suspend personal control of their fitness regimens each Tuesday at the Mike Long Track, during Gulf Winds Track Club Intervals. These otherwise self-determing souls faithfully accept the workouts Bill Lott, John Kalin and I inflict on them. Road warriors delight us by showing up en masse, with nary a challenge to the scheduled sessions. Image of “the loneliness of the long distance runner” accedes to the notion that “misery loves company” for these intense exercise bouts. And why doesn’t this particular mass of misery ever mutiny over the bounty of effort we demand? Perhaps local runners accept our instruction on pure trust. More likely, they fear that we would retaliate by assigning even more stressful workouts. At any rate, our hardworking runners deserve an explanation for the strategy behind their suffering. Here it is…

WORKOUT VOLUME: the workouts are kept at 3 miles. Firstly, this volume mimics the popular 5k race distance. Secondly, 3 miles of intense work should be enough to stimulate improvement without risking injury. Thirdly, your dedicated volunteer coaches will miss their cherished “Simpsons” reruns if we keep you on the track for more than 3 miles.

WORKOUT PACE: we start with your 5k race pace, and increase velocity as the distance of the exercise interval drops. Translating that sentence into words actually used by humans, we mean that if you are attempting 3 x 1 mile, you’d like to aim for 10-15 seconds faster per mile than your 3mile/5k race pace. For 6 x ½ mile, you’ll be shooting for 15-20 seconds quicker per mile than race pace. These paces should be fast enough to stimulate improved oxygen delivery and running mechanics. Attempting paces faster than those prescribed may stimulate protective mechanisms that slow the runner down (eg fatigue, nausea, cancellation of track club membership).

WORKOUT RECOVERY INTERVAL: The general idea is to allow just enough rest so that each repeat can be accomplished in the same time as the previous one. Too much rest deprives the runners of the sense of fatigue required to duplicate racing conditions. Too little rest results in overly fatigued runners, gradually slowing times, and poor form. If a group of runners is visibly exhausted, they will get more rest. If, on the other hand, they start getting chatty while on break from a repeat, we get them going again. And, of course, if they start taunting the timing crew, we immediately cut the respite by half! Miss Manners would be amazed at the way my timers can curtail uncivil discourse with the press of a stopwatch!

Gulf Winds Track Club Intervals are conducted each Tuesday from 5:45-6:45 pm at the Mike Long Track. They are free and open to the running public