TESTING is an important and necessary part of training, that’s what they taught me on my coaching course. It makes sense. Without testing, how would you know if you’ve improved!
Testing can take many forms. You can test by monitoring time, distance, strength, weight and much more. It all depends on your fitness goal. My main target for the summer is a 10km race in July, so I wanted to test my current 10km fitness.
It’s been four months since my last 10km race, where I ran 40:31. After so long, I had no idea what shape I was in. To find out, I decided to take part in a local 10km trail race in Wombwell, Barnsley. The race is on the Trans Pennine Trail, but started on the road. We had to run about 200m on tarmac before turning sharp right onto the trail.
‘You’ll have to get a good start.’ Chris is full of words of wisdom. ‘Otherwise you’ll end up queuing at the entrance to the trail.’
My starts are never the best – take last week’s road league race as an example – and after not doing any speed work for a few weeks, my legs weren’t feeling the sharpest. But I really didn’t fancy queuing.
I set off much faster than I usually would. I turned right, safely on the trail without any queuing. Almost immediately I began to feel it. My body does not respond well to fast starts. I had to work really hard just to keep going.
My friends, Sarah and Kerry, were in sub-forty 10km shape. I knew I wasn’t, so I didn’t even try to go with them. I had to focus on my own race.
When I glanced at my watch, I’d only done two miles. Two miles! Four to go. I knew it would hurt. I pushed on. It was getting harder and harder. There were a few nasty little inclines that felt like mountains, but I maintained a good pace.
I’ve never been so pleased to see a turnaround point in my life. It was marked by a tiny plastic cone, next to which stood a chap with lots of bottled water. I really fancied a drink, but they were still wrapped up. I’d have to stop and open them, which would cost valuable seconds. I kept going. My mouth was dry. I was gasping, mouth open, when I had the misfortune to swallow a fly. I was almost sick.
I had no choice but to keep going. In the final few miles I could hear a man behind me. He was breathing hard, and made no attempt to overtake. He was happy to sit on my shoulder and let me do the work. I’ve been in this position so many times before. I do the work, only for the person behind to annihilate me in a sprint finish. No way was I going to let this happen again.
Onto the road and the man moved next to me. I went faster. He tried to get in front again. The finish was in sight. Somehow I managed to find some extra energy, enough that I crossed the line before him. Not that it mattered, of course, in the grand scheme of things, but my competitive self always gets carried away!
The chap shook my hand. ‘Well done,’ he said. ‘You got me round.’
I smiled and thanked him too. If he’d not been chasing me, I probably wouldn’t have done so well. I finished third lady, behind Sarah and Kerry, in 40:49, the second fastest 10km of my life.
As far as my fitness testing goes, I was really pleased. It’s a few weeks till my main race, so I have plenty of time to get some quality speed work in. In the meantime, I’ll crack open the wine, a nice reward for a tough race.