The grass running track at the high school has been mowed so the lane marking have been erased so we decide to do our speed work in the park next to the school. I’m running barefoot so I feel anxious about the quality of the bitumen surface we’ll be running our sprints on. It looks like it has loose stones on it.
On the first warm up lap of the park I discover that most of the track is relatively smooth but that about 100m is rough on my feet. It’s not too rocky but the surface is worn. Running barefoot is making me quite expert at recognising the difference in the way different road surfaces feel. Some are soft while others are hard: the 100m of rough road are hard. But the road is still manageable.
After the 600m warm up lap we run four 100m strides to loosen our legs. I chat with my running friends during the warm-up, catching up on stories of their weekends. We stretch our legs, talking nervously about the sprint session ahead.
Then we’re off. We run two 400m sprints along the road, across a netball court, onto the grass and through to our finish line. We’ve measured the distance with a GPS so know that we are actually running the 400m we intend to. It’s tough work trying to keep up the pace for the entire distance and I suck air in heavily after each repeat.
We jog the 200m back to the start line where we mumble among ourselves to delay the start of our two 200m sprints. Sure, it’s not a long way or many repeats but it’s tough because we all give the session 100%.
Speed sessions are as close as I come to formal training sessions. And even in these sessions we don’t have a ‘coach’ – we are just a group of middle- and long-distance runners who join the sprinters go through their paces. It’s not as exciting to write about as my more scenic long runs but I enjoy the short, sharp sessions a lot.
Distance run: 4km.