I designed my training calendar for the year on the basis that my training was going to be mileage and experiment-driven. However, I didn’t entirely forget about the need to sanity check or more aptly, speed check it every now and then. As such, I included several races with goal times, acknowledging that my shorter distance races were likely to suffer under this new regime.
The first of the speed check runs was to be a 4-mile road race in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford. I ran this race last year and posted a respectable 26:12 off the back of some pretty intense training for a one-mile time trial on the track. Naturally, setting the bar low, I plotted to break 26 mins as part of my new regime. Crazy, you say – of course it was but there was no point having a false benchmark over such a short distance.
I created the training calendar and found a date for the Kilmacthomas 4-mile race. I never thought to check that date again, closer to the time. Guess what? Yes, you got it, that date changed. The race had been brought forward by one week so I missed it.
Being undeterred by the absence of an official 4-mile road race in Kilmacthomas, I decided to stage my own personal time trial over the distance. I identified a stretch of road roughly matching the same elevation challenge and fired the imaginary starter’s pistol.
I fully expected this speed check to throw out a reality check. After all, this was a fake race over 4 miles, with no specific speed work nor aerobic threshold training done in the last 4 months. It was also a race of 1 person, with nobody to chase nor spur me on. This was as much a test for my mental strength as it was for my physical.
I posted a 26:46 for the time trial. Initially disappointed when I stopped the watch but later, upon reflection, rather happy. I ran 34s quicker than that last year while chasing other runners and having just run my fastest official mile time trial ever. That’s only 8s per mile slower, outside of race conditions and with no speed work. Top-end speed was inevitably going to suffer due to a lack of aerobic threshold training but maybe this wild adventure isn’t too crazy after all…