I kickstarted 2019 with a 10km race, Foulées de Malakoff, at the beginning of February. It was a Championnats de France 10km qualifying race. If I could hit below 48min, I would be qualified for the national championship at the end of the year.
The 10km race was supposed to be a part of my training for the upcoming semi-marathon of Rambouillet (17 March). I finished it in 48:36 and thus, not qualified for the 2019 Championnats de France 10km.
Foulée de Malakoff was my third 10km race. My debutant 10km race was in March 2015, Hong Kong with a finishing time of 49min. My second race was Les Foulées Cachanaises in May 2018, a month after my Albi Marathon. I finished it at barely below 49min, a pace of 4:54 per km. Objectively, there was hardly any significant progress in my 10km pace since 2015.
My disappointment was compounded by the fact that I actually finished the first 10km of my semi-marathon of Saint Omer in October 2018 (semi for Championnats de France) in 47:41, a pace of 4:46 per km. If I could beat my personal record for 10km in a semi-marathon, how could I not finish faster in a 10km race!
I have always known that I fare better in long runs than short runs. Personal experiences in ultra-trail races and the 2 marathon races I participated have demonstrated that I am more like a camel than a horse. I do not not have the horsepower to revved up over a short distance, but I have the endurance to finish far. At times, I could even beat the horses which did not have the stamina to go far.
That said, I have put in my share of speed workouts since I joined the Orsay running club in Sep 2016, and focused on road running. So, what are the reasons for the stagnancy? My switch to a pair of light, but less-cushioned shoes (Adidas Adizero Adios 3) for the race ? I did not train enough? I should spend more time training with the club, rather than training on myself? Was it because the training plan I followed was not suitable for me? Was it because I have reached the plateau of my performance after a late pickup in running? Should I have lost some weight?
Group vs. Individual Training
I met up with my running coaches, and told them about my disappointment. They pointed out that I should have attended the group trainings (I have switched to the leisure group from competitive group), instead of training by myself. Group trainings are better as innate competitiveness and social pressure would push me to run harder, further and faster. Individual training does not motivate me to test my own limit.
I do agree that group training has definitely many benefits. Apart from those mentioned by the coaches, comradeship during the tough workouts will make these sessions more bearable, Moreover, group training will provide an opportunity to make friends in this country, improve my French, and to participate in races as a group (which is definitely more fun!).
So, why do I NOT attend the group training? Convenience. As a free-lance teacher without a fixed schedule, I may not be able to rush back in time to attend the 6.30pm weekday sessions. In addition, I am free occasionally on certain mornings or noons which allows me to finish the workouts, and get them out of the way. As for the Saturday 9:00 sessions, no other excuse : too lazy. All I want to do on a Saturday morning is to enjoy a leisure breakfast at my favourite local boulangerie.
I will be attending the semi-Rambouillet marathon this Sunday with the running club. I have been training by myself (with Silviu at times) in the last 3 months but admittedly, the training has not been too smooth. A week off due to cold, a week off resting my right knee, bouts of depressions due to the 10km disappointment.
Running has become deeply ingrained in the daily routine : Easy run on Monday, Workout on Tuesday, Easy run on Wednesday, Workout on Thursday…. If I miss a run, I will feel guilty. Running has become more and more of an obligation. I keep asking myself : why am I putting myself through all the lung bursting, leg-burning workouts? At a ripe old age of XXX, would an improvement of a few seconds, or a couple of minutes get me a gold medal?
That said, I still have to do a workout later today. It will be the last workout before the semi-marathon on Sunday. The next few days will be filled up with easy runs until Sunday. It should also be the only race for the first half of 2019. The two Championnats de France for which I am qualified (full and semi-marathons) will be held in October. I will have a few months to think about whether I would like to subject myself in the training torture again.