When you train solo, these can be famous last words. That tempo run that was due becomes another easy (EZ) run. The high intensity (HI) session that you should have done was run too easily. Your running plateaus and you lose your mojo.
This was a trap that I almost fell into before some careful negotiation with Mrs Fish allowed us to both attend one of a few of the offered Generation Run sessions once a week. While one of us gets to go out and for some professional coaching with Coach Bec and play with a great group of runners, the other gets kids duty.
Running with Gen Run has been a revelation for my running. I'm still loving my twice weekly MAF 145 BPM heart rate runs in the morning, but the chance to run with the group for my tempo or HI runs means I get out there and do them.
Coach Bec is amazing. she caters for runners of all abilities, and the mix of talent in her groups means that there is always someone who is going to make you push yourself that little bit harder (if that's what you need), or there's someone there to provide you the support when you need it most.
I've always had a little bit of speed, and been respected for it, but to get the edge I want I need someone to push me as well. Running with a group and Gen Run has provided me with the opportunity to be pushed. When you get assigned your reps and expected intensity level, that little fella called 'ego' means that you want to perform. The fact that my brother-in-law also runs with the group sparks a little bit of friendly competition.
So how has this translated in terms of performance? I've not yet raced since commencing my group training, but my opening lines were from last Monday night.
Bec threw me to the lions (or the brother-in-law) pairing us up for the 6x1km tempo runs off 2 minutes static recovery. These were to be at our 10km pace, and consistent. No going out too hard and flagging on the last couple of repeats.
If they say an EZ run pace is when you can run and talk in broken conversation, then these reps turned out to be just on the verge of and EZ run. The exciting part is, that we were runnning at 4:05 min/k pace, which dropped by a few each time to average 3:53 over the 6 reps. That kind of pace would not have happened if I were doing my own reps on the trail. Nor would I have done 6km. It would have been 4, maybe 5.
I said it last year in my wrap of of the Salomon Series, that I felt my endurance was down by dropping my long runs with the Dandenongs Trail Runners and I've really enjoyed the weekend runs with them when I can. Now I know it's out there in the running world, but the power of a great group is something I underestimated. Big time. If you can, find your local group and make it happen for you.
Cheers and happy running,