No matter how we express it, "withdrawing from your fitness banks" , "breaking down walls" or whatever, put simply racing takes it out of us all. No matter how old we are.
But it's so often said that recovering from races getting harder as we age. After the Beaverbrooks 10K, a week last Sunday, in which I had to work very hard to run 43 minutes, it was 6 days later on the following Saturday that I felt up to getting anyway near that race pace. Last week was a hard week indeed.
The track session of 10 x 600 metres reps with 200 metre jog recovery was executed at 45 mins pace
with the temperature showing 4 degrees and me dressed as if the calendar was reading February. Desperate stuff. A stark contrast to today with the temperature getting well over 20.
Another indication of the impact of that 10K was shown in comparing last week's and this week's 2 res run. Last week, again in cold blustery conditions, 64.15. Yesterday, despite a temperature of 19 degrees...59.15. So 5 minutes faster. Perhaps I just thrive with a bit of sun on my back!
Of course , you young 'uns often take a different view with regard to races. Take one local F50 who prepared for a hilly marathon last week by running a club league race on the Tuesday night and not content with that slotted in a sub 20 mins 5K on the Wednesday night. A different view to marathon taper; but a time which "forecasted" to about 3:10. She ran 3:26 and missed out on a category win in the marathon by t just 3 minutes?! Failure to focus,perhaps or just enjoying racing?
I follow the progress of a club mate who in his late teens was at much the same level as me as a steeplechaser. His times recently have been a tad disappointing but he did go back under 9 minutes last year. He ran in a fairly prestigious 3k steeplechase last Sunday but missed on a sub 9 mins clocking by ten seconds. The night before he had raced a 1500 metre race, finishing 11th. Failure to focus, pehaps?
The great wee man, Haile, ran a superb Great Manchester 10K time of 27.39 and will turn out again this Sunday in Hengolo, Netherlands supposedly in an attempt to gain an Olympic place over the same distance, having missed out on a marathon place. Will he still have that road 10K in his legs and miss out? We'll see on Sunday. Would you have raced the Manchester with the trial 7 days later? Failure to focus perhaps ?
I know many vets like to race every week. I've queried this with a few and they tell me in between they just "tick over", doing no track sessions; they use the races as their speed work. It's an approach which seems to work for many; but I'm not sure it would work for me. I'm not sure I want to be heading out every Sunday morning or even earlier for 9.00 a.m. parkruns.
I think I'm strong enough to race pretty well a couple of times each month at the moment but perhaps try to "peak" for a few key races where the courses are particularly conducive to a good performance. Hopefully I can maintain that approach until November then ease down for a few weeks.