The short race I have (8k) is three weeks from today. By then I will have done 8-9 track workouts. I decided against any interval work simply because I felt shorter 3200m and 5k efforts would have more bang for the buck. I have put myself in position as coach, which means I need to look objectively at what I am trying to do. I am recognizing as the runner I want constantly improvement to reinforce my confidence. In speaking with Brother Grub (legendary mentor) it appears I have fell into a trap of sorts.
For the first workout of 3200m I wanted to see what 6:00 pace felt like, or even if I could approach it. The result was good so it seemed a 5k trial was in order to have a sense of what racing was like and gain confidence. I felt I achieved this. On the next 3200m I tried to run by feel and discovered I am not at 6:00 cruise pace. After 1200m I discovered I had to go to race mode to get to 5:58 at 1600m and then I just blasted home in that mode for a final 1600m of 5:49. It was work, though I appeared to recover fine.
The plan was to run the next 5k better than the last one and this is my dilemma. I don't think I'm rested enough to do this (that's fine, ran 10 yesterday) so I have to step in and tell myself a good tempo effort is in order. Otherwise, I may start doubting.
Why is this? What's to doubt? On my second track effort I averaged 5:56 for a 5k, alone and unrested. I need to build on what I have and work with it. I'll do another 5k trial, but when I start cutting back and when it feels right. I should be smart enough to figure this out, but you have to talk to other people sometimes to see the light. I'm not 30 anymore. Heck, I'm not 40 anymore. I can use the 3200m efforts to simulate faster running and hopefully in this short period at least get to where the first half of the 8k can be done at cruising speed. All I have right now is race mode to hit 6:00 or better. I have to find a way to get to cruising speed, because right now I am not quite able to push from the start in pure race mode and break 30:00. I don't have a lot of time, but I also am not going to do it in 1-2 workouts like the runner part of me wants to do. The mind remembers too much from the past, while the body is missing a couple tools from the original set.
This short excursion back to the other side is fun, but it does remind me how hard it is to race well over short distances. I would recommend everyone do the trip, but think hard about how long you pack for. Going back to racing for time is a challenge. You get nervous and anxious. It takes you back a few years. In all honesty, you want to beat people, but you have to do it for you and not someone else. I guess that's what has made ultra running the better long term option for me.