Light at the end of the tunnel

Today came the first enjoyable sprint session since… 2016.

As I approached the dark track, I wondered ‘have I got the right day?’ The floodlights were off, and I couldn’t see anyone running. With feet already sodden from the walk in, I stepped on the track and realised there was a good inch of slush covering it. I trudged a very slow and careful lap in an attempt to warm up, but quickly retreated to the gym to do drills.

The session was to be 400m, 300m, 250m, 200m, 150m, 100m.

Last time I did a full lap, besides warming up, was in the one-hour decathlon back in September; but once outside in the cold, we were more than keen to begin quickly. We were 3 pairs: Jaime & Jeremy out front; Giulia & Jenna, who joined us this week; Gocke & I at the back, with Mark following (then overtaking)   us.

Now- Jenna is much younger than I, and sprinted a lot as a teenager. However- I suddenly felt extremely competitive for the first time in months. I would not be beaten by somebody on her first sprint session here. Starting a second behind her, I stayed on Jenna’s heels through the first 200m. Around the second bend, I eased to her right- something I am absolutely not accustomed to doing- and accelerated through the finishing straight. I found it curiously satisfying to run the full lap with 3 women, much closer to my ability than in previous 400m races (when I’ve been running my own slow-race). Suddenly almost understood the enjoyment of the longer sprints- or at least the tactics involved.

With the 400m done, the back of the session was broken; and with each sprint getting shorter, I felt able to push myself in each run without worrying about simply finishing the session, as I have done every week since the autumn break.

For the final 100m, we ran a men’s and a women’s race, so the 4 of us ran together. It was really exciting to feel the thrill of a 100m race after 4 months. Form, I am sure, went out the window as I scrapped with Giulia to what would have been a photo-finish.

Back into the gym for a flask of tea, dry socks and a stretch- happy days.
It’s back on.

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