After the lactate test a few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to run a 5000m soon™ to compare the lactate test results to an all out effort. There are still no races here in Belgium till 1 August, so I set my mind on time trialling a 5000m on the track of the athletics club I am in. For planning purposes, I mentioned it to the head coach there, who immediately offered to pace me. He is quite a bit faster so that is nice. Logistically I figured I would just aim for the later parts of a regular clubtraining, hoping it would not be too busy any more.
After the lactate test, I did two up weeks at 110 km. In the first week I did a CV and a VO2max workout, besides the long run. In the second week I did another VO2max workout. Due to planning constraints I could not do a second workout, though I still had my long run. In the week of the time trial, I ended up having to take a day off on Monday due to some medical checks. Notable only because I had been on a 129 day streak. It was more accidental (easier to plan when I use all the days), so I did not care too much.
The days preceding the time trial, my legs were acting up a bit, some niggles appearing. On Friday, the day of the TT, everything felt fine though.
I have been slacking since the lactate test and have not done any strength training. I did, however, read “Running Anatomy” by Joe Puleo a nice book with strength exercises in which they also detail (and draw) the exact muscles as well as say how it helps your running. I will try to get back on the strength wagon and use some structure from that book.
Goal and Strategy
My spring goal was going under 17 minutes in the 5000 metre. That fell apart because of COVID19, but the goal itself remained. For this time trial, I figured I would give myself a little bit of leeway and aim for 16:50. That makes for 3:22 per km, a rather useless thing to know as the track of my club is a helpful 360 metre long. I prepared by having a list of splits for various markings that appear on the track and planning to press the lap button every two laps. I figured if I pay attention at the start and get into a rhythm, I could get through a lot of it safely. Strategy wise, if that is even a thing in a run like this, even splits seemed like the way to go.
After a warm-up in the nearby park, it became clear that there was going to be some peer pressure on me to perform. The head coach (Maarten) who had offered to do some pacing had recruited another much-faster-than-me guy, Hamza, the other head coach, to also help. They then recruited two other guys from the club to handle lap and split calling. They also shouted around the track to keep lane 1 free, putting more eyes on us. If I was going to fail now, everyone would see it.
It was in the low 20s C, the sun had come back out. There was also a decent headwind (20km/h) on the far straight that did not seem to be present on the home straight. We figured the pacers would catch some of that wind at least.
We started out with Hamza leading the way. It felt easy enough, but that’s expected so early into it. I immediately messed up my own lap / split taking and quickly gave up on it altogether. Good thing we had someone calling out the lap time as we passed. The goal per lap was 1:12.7, so calling it out I would hear him count 9, 10, 11, 12. Trust the others. It took me a few laps to really realise what they were doing though (or maybe they did not start out with doing that) and those first several laps, I felt like we were not going quite fast enough.
Maarten took over the leading at some point before halfway (I had already largely stopped keeping track by that point) and we went noticeably faster from there on. I started feeling slightly worse and worse, but pushed myself to keep on Maarten’s tail. The last 1000 metre I felt myself slowly falling apart, but I kept finding another little bit of will to push myself. The times I heard from the side were working out alright at least. Hamza rejoined the pacing during or before that final 1000m and it felt a little bit like Kipchoge running under 2hrs, except way slower. My form was really falling apart near the end, but I managed a scrappy sprint of sorts to the line in the final 100m still. This was hard.
† These are moments I actually remembered to press the lap button, all lap times here are estimated with linear interpolation from those lap button times.
So it seems I was right in thinking that we started out a bit slow. Good thing Maarten switched it up and made us speed up though. Some serious negative splitting going on. Those last few laps were hell, but it looks like we managed to cut off some more time in the process. New PR and for once I am completely sure of the distance.
Looks like I also broke my 3000m PR in the process. Taking just the average pace of this entire run, puts my 3000m now at 10:04, a five second improvement. Of course, with the negative splitting I am rather sure that the last 3000m of this 5000m would have been faster than 10:04, but I am hesitant to make a PR out of a bunch of interpolating. I will just have to run another 3000m and ensure I dip under 10 minutes.
The track calendar of what remains of the season should be finalising soonish. Once that is done, I will be picking out some races to have some fun. It would be nice to be able to set an official 5000m race time too, though I doubt I will be able to replicate this effort without some pacing there too. As mentioned above, I will probably look for a 3000m too, to go under 10 minutes. Beyond those two, the world is my oyster. With this weird track season I will have fun racing just about anything at this point.