Thursday, August 10

'But it's only a mile....!'

Ah yes, tell people that your next race is the Pearl Street Mile and they can't understand what all the fuss is about.

"Oh! I could do that!" says Pam, the massage therapist.
"Could you do it in 5 minutes?" responds Emily, the chiropractor lucky enough to be treating my groin at the moment.

Racing one mile is hard. There is no room for error, no time to ease yourself into it, no possibility of clawing back a gap if your concentration slips. It is "be here now" stuff and I am desperately trying -- in a completely not-attached-to-outcome way, of course -- to access the Zen state necessary to be totally present, ready to suffer and so reach enlightenment: ie, win the thing.

"To be willing to do all that it takes -- deep desire -- requires the element of suffering", writes Dr Jerry Lynch, PhD, in "The Way of the Champion", the book I always read before a race.

"It is through suffering that you connect with your deepest athletic and personal self and have the vision of your ultimate greatness".

I wish I'd read that this morning before our final hard track session: 4 x 800 metres at mile race pace. Training for the mile hurts! No wonder most old gits like me drift towards the longer distances. Sure, there is an element of suffering in training longer and slower, but it is nowhere near as sharp.

Races that take between one minute and five minutes to complete take athletes into what sports physiologists call "the mystery zone". Elite performance in the mile requires both aerobic and anaerobic power.. So even although it's only a mile, you've still got to keep up your normal diet of steady running at distances from 5-15 miles or more, but on top of that you've got to do the eyeballs-out, fast fast fast stuff, too.

Nobody can tell you what the exact mix should be.
You get there by trial and error and, if you're lucky,
expert asessment and feedback from someone
who's been there and done it. Only a mile, but so hard to get right.

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