Yesterday I returned to the track for my third coached session with James from Kinetic Revolution. A fortnight has passed since we started working on my technique and in that time I’d practiced and trained to help embed the changes. Sessions have been short, but very specific; the goal always to run well. Quality over quantity.
I know I need to commit to whatever it takes. It may be entirely different to my previous training, it could be boring and it might be hard, but I came to James for independent, expert advice and the only way to benefit was to fully adopt it. No adjusting to fit my personal preferences, just do what I was told. That level of commitment is essential to effectively adapting.
The initial sessions set out the principles of the new technique and began the process of adopting it. I felt I took to it well and whilst it required focus I was hitting my stride. From an injury perspective my calves felt less strain under the new form – a very positive sign. After a few days I was more confident and optimistic than I had been in months.
James provided me a set of strengthening exercises and run workouts to practice. In duration or effort these weren’t challenging, but always required me to maintain form. The runs targeted three areas – developing my ability to hold technique at low speed; kilometre repeats at my steady pace to get used to working; and short strides to overemphasise form. The strength exercises involved series of single leg squats and variants upon that theme.
I did as I was told and diligently performed the strength and conditioning work daily. At first the results were sore glutes and discomfort on stairs; two weeks later whilst the exercises make my hamstrings and glutes work, the DOMS are gone. Already my stability feels enhanced, during yesterday’s dynamic warm-up lunges were performed with minimal wobble. The change is noticeable when I run – footfalls feel solid.
Every evening I worked though the conditioning routine and every day I ran. Mostly slowly attempting to develop my feel for the new technique. The exaggerated motion of the strides was in many ways easier, giving strong feedback on the correctness of form. Holding technique at a full range of paces is vital so I focussed on the hardest area – keeping good form when slow.
Running felt easy. I began to doubt the accuracy of my pedometer – speed didn’t match perceived exertion. Uncertainty dominated these sessions; I’d play with pace, throwing in short sprints to enforce correct technique. I worked hard to slow down, but never managed to reach 5:30min/km pace. Pleasingly I could cruise at 4:45min/km, but I wanted the control. Run with good form from my slowest to my fastest effort.
The track confirmed the pedometer was right. James put me through four 1km repeats with a goal pace of 4 minutes. I hit 3:30min/km for the first feeling I’d worked, but not pushed. We focussed on technique and I attempted to ease back whilst still maintaining a fatiguing effort; my priority was developing triggers to maintain form. Every 100m I’d make a concerted effort to emphasise technique.
The remaining reps came in marginally slower, but felt more controlled. Running like clockwork: I was a machine going through a set of motions and it felt comfortable. I noticed a tendency for my right arm to slow whenever concentration drifted so it became the centre of attention. I focussed on keeping a crisp arm swing throughout each lap, using the 100m triggers to remind me. When the right arm worked, technique fell in place – it was a metronome dictating my form!
Two weeks have turned my outlook around. I run without concerns about my calves; I actually look forward to the training again. It goes beyond returning to run fitness, I am convinced I can run faster. It will take time, but I’m committed – a year of work will see me running better than ever.
From nutrition to pacing - a collection of CoachCox blog posts focused specifically on Ironman training and racing.