Thursday, 15 September 2016

This summer Track & Field season, and in particular the 800m, was always going to be a quiet (i.e. slow) one. 

I have no winter base (although I did have a high mileage March, on its own not enough), and therefore nothing on which to build any summer speed (he says, in true Lydiard speak) style!) 

Even though I didn't have training from the lower levels of the pyramid in the bag, I still went along to the club on track-sessions, and put in some "Interval Training" and "Speed and Skills", as the diagram calls them!

I did this for three reasons:
  1. As I've previously explained, I was pretty certain by early summer that I had my New Gait cracked at the slower paces. I needed to up the speed of the drills and repetitions, and the track has a smooth, firm surface where you can concentrate on style.
  2. My coach Jon Tilt is there, and I knew that he could keep an eye on me, do a bit of filming.
  3. I missed the crew - I'd been away from the track most of the winter and spring, to make sure I behaved!! 
The plan worked.

I made some mistakes in the early summer - put on too much speed too soon.  I've written about the mistakes in earlier blogs.  But steadily and surely, the speed rose as the style remained.  I was able to run further and faster whilst maintaining good form. 

For example, running 300m repetitions at a 1500m race pace in May ended in poor form.  I could feel it.  I didn't need to be filmed.  But by late August, I was happy that I was maintaining good form over 400m at 800m pace.

And here's the proof.  The linked YouTube video shows the first and second lap, at the bell / at the finish.  I've synched them so that the middle step is aligned, at the point I'm square on to the camera, passing that small traffic cone.

(With thanks to Adrian Harwood for capturing the footage)(oh, and putting me up for the night to avoid a 2 hour drive home!!!)

I was absolutely blowing (a technical term amongst t&f folk for "completely exhausted of all apparent energy!!!) on the second lap, I'd hit the 800m lactic "wall" at the classic 650m, and was hanging on!!!

So I was very surprised to see that form had not suffered too much!  This, I assume, means that the brain to muscle pathways (the subconscious communications) are firmly established.  The shoulders have rounded a bit, and there's a little more bend at the midriff, but altogether it's not too bad!  Clearly I'm covering more ground on lap 1 - each stride is longer - but I'm happy to see that I wasn't resorting to over striding to compensate.

Finally, I was extremely happy and excited to get this message from Keith and Heidi who had caught the raw video on facebook, and was wearing a grin for the rest of the day!

"We think your transition is complete (as far as the brain goes). We think now it is just a matter of repetition and perfecting with the necessary strength building as you go. Simply using whatever cues work for you to be as balanced as possible each landing You might try two tricks now: 1. starting at lower speeds try accelerating by taking of with slightly more power - encouraging that over any temptation to extend the stride length by reaching forward, and 2. On longer runs try slowing the cadence slightly to encourage a more powerful take off."


  1. Footnote: I tried "slowing the cadence slightly" in the park, barefoot, yesterday, to comical effect. I think the first attempt was probably closer to "bounding" ... I just hope no one I knew was watching!! Subsequent attempts proved that just subtly increasing the stride length by increasing takeoff power had the desired effect!

    1. just a few strides per minute :-) Subtle - very subtle.Thanks for that feed back - need to mention that! :-)

  2. That is a great post and tremendous to see how far you have come since you started your journey just over a year ago. Standing behind the phone camera at the WOGM 800m, you looked remarkably comfortable (notwithstanding that you were 'blowing') and balanced at a very fast pace. The evidence from the video umpire bears that out.

    Fascinating comments from Keith and Heidi and a great deal for me to think about in my own running. Looking forward to the 2nd edition of the book later this year - there is clearly a huge amount of craft and insight going into it.

    1. Thank you Adrian - there is indeed a great deal of work going into the second edition. I have learnt a lot since the first edition! I have to say it's looking very good (but needs some more tidying and then a damn good edit!). I hope we'll see you in June July - Arriving Cardiff 21st June departing Cardiff 19th July - just sorting the in between so will now contact David re good races