Two races over one bank holiday weekend provides you with plenty of food for thought. I mean, realistically, should you race twice in two days? Especially when one requires you to step it up a gear. When I was first invited to run a mile by adidas, I thought, how hard could it be? Realistically, I knew that there was no way I could run it in this time (see below)…but I’d give it a go.
It was only a mile and wouldn’t impact at all on my Bupa London 10,000 race which I was running for my running club the next day. Hindsight is a funny old thing because I was so wrong about the Westminster Mile. Racing 1,609m is tricky business, no wonder so few people actually train to do it. Here’s why the Bupa Westminster Mile was more difficult for me than the Bupa London 10,000 (a 10k race).
1. It’s the pace not the distance
A single mile or 1,600m (1,609m to be more accurate) is the equivalent of running four times around a 400m track (plus 9 extra metres) or walking from Hyde Park Corner tube to Tottenham Court Road tube. Granted, you can do it at a moderate 5k pace but sprinting is a completely different kettle of fish. It’s not far but far enough for the speed and distance to have an impact. Unlike a 10k, where you can ease yourself into a steady, speedy pace, you have to be in racing car mode from the word ‘go’ – and then stick with it until the bitter, puke-inducing end.
2. Training for a mile relies on power, posture and poise
Ok, I made up the poise bit but a lot of the training run by Tom Craggs relies on you being aware of your posture when you run. Whereas you can be a bit lax during marathon training, especially when you get tired, to run a mile efficiently you have to think about form. I was invited by adidas to a session with Tom, who explained that to work that mile you have to be conscious of your posture throughout the distance. This means leaning slightly forwards, arms pumping, head high, gaze focused and legs moving as if you’re running on hot coals. It sounds good on paper but try putting it all together on the track, adding in an explosion of speed and then you’ll soon realise the racing a mile.
3. You need to warm up properly
When it comes to warming up, I’m not the greatest. It’s not that I don’t enjoy some of the training exercises put together by coaches like Tom (in fact, some of them remind me of warm-up during my dancing days), I’m just lazy. I’d rather be out there, on the field, running. A few kicks here, jogs on the spots, runners’ arms and I’m pretty much ready to go, aren’t I? Erm not when it comes to running a mile. As Tom very wisely told us, you have to ensure your muscles are warm before you hit those sprints. This means being thorough about those dynamic stretches, hamstring sweeps, feet rolls. And perhaps on the day of the Bupa Westminster Mile I was not thorough enough. Let’s just say I said hello to my hamstrings once again as I catapulted myself along the 1,609m long race.
4. It’s over quickly but you can certainly feel it
My initial thoughts about the Bupa Westminster Mile were half correct. It was a short and sharp race that took me about 6 minutes (6:17 to be exact) to complete. It was however a bit of a shock to the energy systems and my legs.
5. I’d prepare myself more the next time
Note to myself: if I’m going to run a mile in future, I should definitely go in more prepared and maybe not run a 10k the next day. Honestly, after my 6 and a bit minutes of “sprinting”, I went home and spent the afternoon alternating between an ice pack tied around my leg with a hairband and sitting on balls (the soft yoga massage kind) to try and ease my twitchy hamstring.
6. And not run a 10k the next day if my leg is twitchy
The Bupa London 10,000 is well-organised, not too overcrowded and a good one for club runners. I even bumped into my fellow Minnie The Minxes at the beginning of the race (our racing vests are red and black) and I didn’t have to a climb barriers to enter my racing pen. In fact, I was looking forward to it being a speedy breeze around London but unfortunately my hamstring wasn’t playing ball. I even started out with the best of intentions, wearing my TomTom watch to time my kilometres (something I said in my last post that I would start doing) but thought against it in the end as I know what I’m like. Not only am I competitive with others, I’m competitive with myself and I’d only want to push myself, making the injury worse. In the end lefty leg did hold up and I managed a sub-45 (44:23) but it was nowhere near a PB.
Would I run a mile again? I think if that’s my goal, I will have to train better and think seriously about the warm-up to ensure I don’t injure myself. As will be revealed soon, my next goal is at the other end of the scale. I also thought the medals were nice touches – the mile medal celebrated 60 years of Roger Bannister breaking the 4 minutes mile barrier (and he didn’t have speedy adidas boost trainers to help him!).
Did you run the Bupa Westminster Mile or the Bupa London 10,000? What did you think of it? Would you do either of them again?