Chamonix Diaries Day 9: June 7th 2017

Thankfully the weather is starting to turn, and as I woke up, the sun was peeking out through the clouds. The temperature had started to rise again after a few days of sub 10 Celsius days, a contrast to what we had last week in the glorious heat. It’s closing in on my time here in Chamonix, and I really will miss being here. Luckily I still have some good days left, and will be making the most of it.

After a conversation with Coach, she said she wanted me to do a speed workout on the flat/track today. I’d done a monster amount of climbing last week, and whilst the volume and intensity on the legs is crucial, it does take the sting out of any raw speed, so today was aimed at keeping that firing. I wasn’t sure how I would fare, nonethelss was excited to get the legs moving faster and run on the iconic Chamonix track. I worked the morning, wandered off for a coffee just before midday, and then made my way out to run. I had 3 easy miles to warm-up, and ended up bumping into Rachel and Tom on their way back from hill repeats up to Flegere. Tom suggested I do my run along the river, as there is a great groomed trail that is great for speed-work and easier running. Taking his advice, I finished my warmup by scouting the trail, and it ended up being about two miles up, over the river and back the other side. Exactly what I needed for my threshold repeats. I had 2x 2mile repeats to do at threshold pace which is always a spicy workout. I started off feeling good, but not as dialled in with my pacing as I usually felt. I never use my watch to gauge pace, and always use effort. However, a big week in the mountains had altered my calibration of my paces (I’d say normally I am about 85% spot on pacing by feel for speed sessions). I felt comfortable despite feeling I was likely going a bit fast. I started to second guess my pacing, owing to the change in surface and return to speed-work after a few weeks of non-speed focused training. I finished the first of my two sets, took my two minutes recovery, and then started on the second set. I felt pretty good on the first mile, wondering if I was running faster due to coming off a rest (which I tend to do). I dialled it back a bit, and as the second mile came on, I definitely felt my legs start to fade. I kept it as consistent as I could, but definitely noticed the pace slow down in the last half. I am always really intrigued to see me pace after speed sessions, as I am OCD with my pacing (i.e. did I hit them or did I not). I get disproportionally annoyed if I go too hard or don’t push enough even if I am only seconds off my target times. There are multiple factors that affect runs day to day, and whilst I cognitively know that, my challenge is to accept what happens on the day, and take away as much learning from that run (instead of dwelling on it). The times are a guide, but I have what I would call an arbitrary want to hit them perfectly each time, even knowing that is not possible. For my sets today, my first mile was significantly faster than required (the second set more so). Dialling it back, I overcompensated on the first set to have the second mile a shade to slow. For the second and final set, I dialled it back but began to fade resulting in my slowest split, and a big dearth between mile one and mile two. So whilst I was dropping some faster miles at the start, my pacing was off, and not my usual consistent range. Threshold sessions are probably the most challenging, as they generally involve longer sets, and the preceding miles are often influenced by the first one. The times I nail them, my splits are within 5-10 seconds of each other. Day like today when I don’t, it is generally due to getting false positives from the first mile, and then inaccurately calibrating the latter miles. Pacing is an art, and the whole point I train is to get better, both in a per session sense, and as a runner and person in a far more complex and bigger picture. This in a nutshell, is why I run.

Post mile repeats, I ran onto the track for a cool down, and did 8 x 20 sec strides, taking in the stunning views and vibe of the track. Instagram and other social media platforms were very prominently showing today as Global Running Day, so I mentally took a note of that as I did laps of the track. For me it was Wednesday, but I didn’t want to completely diminish how important running is to me, and how thankful I am for all the lessons and experiences that have come from it. Running in these incredible mountains for the last week, and today finishing on the iconic Chamonix track (with a perfect backdrop), has really been such a rewarding and joyful experience on so many levels. Running is what brought me here, and what has given me so many opportunities in the three or so years I have put time and energy into cultivating myself as a runner. For that, I am truly thankful.

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