Monday, September 12, 2011

Nugget #44

This is an article I wrote a few years ago about Checkers AC and their track program.  It still pretty much applies, but now the program is coached by Vicky Mitchell.

Finding your true fast self
By Bill Donnelly

OK, so any of you who may have been thinking about running are now totally turned off to the idea after reading my first two columns. Who wouldn’t be after reading about training for a marathon during the winter months, and then reading about running a marathon in the heat of Boston this year?
Don’t give up hope yet. There are many more races out there besides marathons, and most of them are 5k, or just over 3 miles for you non-Canadians. Just look at the race calendar that accompanies this article. Not a marathon among them.
I do recommend that if you start running, doing a race here and there is a great way to stay motivated. Once you try a couple, you will be back for more, and of course, you will be bitten by the competition bug, and you will want to improve.
The best way, if you become serious, is to take part in the Checkers AC Tuesday track workouts. Coached by Bob Carroll, one of the area’s top runners for years, and still running strong at the ripe old age of 47, Coach Carroll puts together one heck of a program for all comers. You just have to be a member of Checkers (worth joining just for their newsletter) and pay a $15 fee to help cover expenses. The workouts run from April till the end of October, and now we meet at Crosby Field in Kenmore before
Averaging 117 runners weekly, it is amazing that Bob can put together an organized workout week after week, yet he does. As a newcomer, he would place you in a group to train with based on your ability, and believe me, there is a very wide range of abilities out on the track, so anyone would feel comfortable. Bob obviously spends so much time on keeping track of how each runner is progressing during the year that most suspect he has no life. Coach Carroll’s credentials include being a three-time All American when he attended Fredonia State College, running a four minute mile, winning Buffalo’s Turkey Trot in the late 1980s, and having coached some of Western New York’s finest athletes, yet he welcomes runners of all abilities. 
When you show up the workouts are up on the board. You know exactly how fast you are expected to run the distances because there is a code word for the speed. You just plug it into your group number, and the pace for the different code words is right there.
For example, the code words are something like cruise pace (which is slowest), date, rep, and I think the fastest is called OW!!! pace. So if you are in group 22, and you are supposed to run 10X400s at OW!!! pace, you find that in your group that means each 100 meters will be at 21 seconds, and using your amazing intelligence (which you must have since you are reading my column) you know each 400 should be run in 84 seconds. Ow!!!
There are pros and cons to the workouts. One pro is that you have many people encouraging each other during the workouts. A con - if on a pain-scale of one to ten, with one being the pain you feel when you eat too much ice cream, and ten being the pain you feel as a friend pulls out all ten of your toe-nails with a pair of rusty pliers; these track workouts would rate a 17.7.
A pro – you get the expert coaching of Bob Carroll, and he puts so much effort into each aspect of each workout. A con – the workouts hurt very, very, very much!
A pro – the tremendous feeling of satisfaction as you finish each workout. A con - you realize that you have to do it again next week.
A pro – the lasting friendships you are bound to make as all strive for the same goal, improvement. A con – did I mention it hurts a lot?
I could keep going, as there actually are so many pros, and I’m just a big baby when it comes to pain. When it comes right down to it, the biggest pro is the high so many runners get when they hit a PR, or personal record, in a race. Then all the hard work pays off big time, and you have new friends and a coach who will be as happy for you as you are for yourself. Just give track workouts a chance.

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