I was on the track recently with a young student that I coach. We were executing a speed interval workout together..During one of the recoveries I happened to comment, as her times continue to reach new levels, that this is a process of discovery~ every quality session she is discovering herself as a competitive runner. No sooner had the words crossed my lips before I realized that it was not all that different for me, except I was in the process of 'rediscovery'.
After all, I have never been 54 1/2 before and my body reacts a little differently than it has in the past, even as recently as eighteen months ago~ not in a bad way and I am ok with it; I am simply trying to understand it. After running consistently through a United States NE Winter of mostly lower intensity aerobic running, I have felt generally strong but by no means quick and I think a tiny little part of my psyche felt that the day had come that I believed I knew would come (the day when the speed was no longer there); in truth I believe I have expected to eventually come for years, I just did not know when, I had resigned myself to it for the most part quite peacefully...but with the end of Winter and the transition to Spring (at least by the calendar if not the weather), I have started to reintroduce some speed and strength workouts...they have been modest and yielding modest speed times but nonetheless, they have been there..
However, on this particular track session day, the weather was right in my European 'wheelhouse', overcast, drizzly, light breeze and mild, in the mid 50's--as we say in England 'plum perfect'...the net result was that all the consistent aerobic building with recent re-introduction to quality training was now bearing fruit on this day as I comfortably achieved some very surprising and satisfying lap splits...much of the workout at or around 5.00 minute pace or faster and this included some 3.00 minute + intervals.
Yes, rediscovery seemed to be the perfect description here on this day in this moment and also for the big picture...I can do some things that I used to do, or at least modified versions of them where the laws of physiology still apply and still engender similar if not the same adaptations, but 'outside the lines' has to be so much more flexible, so much more improvised to some degree and more adaptive. The summary of which can be described as a state of continual evolution and growth not a slave exclusively to the past.
Yes, acknowledging and even referencing the past but shaping the future creatively adjusting to the present circumstances (age). I find now in doing that, my body gives me a pass to keep exploring, it does not rebel against it and thus 'slam the door in my face'.
I am sure to some of you, especially the younger 'indestructible' runner, this may all sound pretty boiler plate, pretty non ground breaking and 'common sensical', and you may well be right..the coach in me would agree with you. But, and there is a but; I am a human being, I am an athlete as well as a coach and human beings have doubts. So forgive me if there seems a pleasant element of surprise to all this but quite frankly there is...this workout on this day did surprise me, I significantly exceeded my expectations...I actually was under the weather the day before and took the day off from running. This is part of the improv, the evolution of adjusting closely to my feelings and diagnostic feedback as opposed to prioritizing what was on my schedule. It goes towards the statement on flexibility in all senses of the word as a Grand Masters runner and athlete. This singular workout with my student infused me with confidence and with renewed motivation and that is great. It has me pondering on just what am I still capable of and what is the best plan of action at approaching fifty five to unlock this capability? Al questions to be asked, to be answered and all part of the new rediscovery ~