When I first mentioned it some folks were surprised, nervous, and some even probably annoyed. I could see people thinking, "What the hell? Why do we need to do this? My race will last hours. How is one mile going to help?"
I realize the summers are hot and racing is slowing down in general. Summer is a great time traditionally to build up an aerobic base to prep for fall and winter races. I find that workouts are still doable this time of year, but you are not going to get the same results necessarily that you will in the fall or during the cooler seasons. So this was our first timed mile. It would give everyone a baseline. It also gives runners some incentive and motivation and accountability.
I tried to give some guidance and direction based off my experience as a miler for most of my life. "Get out fast the first 200, and settle in through 800. You should be doubting your ability to finish by halfway through. Work the 3rd lap, because the last lap is all you got after that! You might feel like your legs are full of lead your last 200 meters." Wise words I know. Most everyone laughed. In my experience though, ultra races have many similarities to racing the mile. The same challenges and thoughts arise. They are less intense in an ultra, but last for longer periods of time.
After an extended warm up and drills + strides we're good to go. I turn on some tunes specifically "Loser" by Beck and Cake's "Going the distance" for motivation.
I line everyone up and off they go! This was exciting. I wanted to be out there pacing each person individually, but I can't and this is each person's own race. Some had developed little packs and some were spaced out on their own. I cheered on everyone to the finish. It was awesome seeing the group supporting each other and cheering and pushing themselves along. It was also cool to see everyone dig deep for a little bit.
Just about everyone was surprised by their time. We did have cooler than normal temperatures, but still, it is summer in Texas.
No, we are not going to turn this into a mile training club. We will likely do a few each year. However, to be a strong and healthy runner, I believe you need to be versatile. Running the same routine, trail, pace, everyday can lead you to become stagnate physically and mentally. Changing up your perspective can lead to developing new strengths and becoming more well rounded. Of course I find ways to parallel running into life!
Continue to find new challenges and don't be afraid to do something different. Our running culture is shifting so much towards longer and longer races, and that's cool, but don't forget about the short intense stuff. It can be exhilarating and just as rewarding.