From Marathon to Middle Distance
Text: Florens, Björn // Photos: Florian Kurrasch
Two Runners, two perspectives (Florens)
I’m a long-distance runner. My first race was a marathon, I ran two ultra-trail races already and have never raced on the track nor do I have a track background. And still, people keep telling me, that I’m a middle-distance runner. It sounds strange to me that the warm-up takes longer than the actual run. I have to admit though, I enjoy the short intervals on the track. But why do we have to walk or even stand in between the intervals again? I’m here to run, not to wait!
My spring marathon preparation was in full swing when Covid-19 hit the running world hard. No more spring marathon. No more goal. Just uncertainty.
“But worst of all, there was suddenly no possibility anymore to show our improvements in a competition.”
– Björn Menges
With strong teammates, each training feels like raceday
As a team, we decided to create milestones and goals for ourselves: race simulations every four weeks. Already in March during the marathon prep, we had a successful 10k training race. But simulating a full marathon…no, thank you. However, races up to 10km can be simulated quite easily in this 4-week-cycle. And, besides that, it’s always easier to work on your speed over the shorter distances first, before moving up to longer distances.
The first milestone was a 5k training race on the road. In the weeks leading up to the race, the training changed compared to the marathon preparation. However, the 10k race and especially the second half of it, lit the fire in me to challenge myself on even shorter distances. Long fartleks like 4x5km, my last marathon-specific session, were suddenly nowhere to be found in the training plan. Instead, short intervals of maximum 1km and far below threshold tempo were common practice. I enjoyed it – the intervals more than the breaks in between. Race day was approaching quickly, but I felt ready. It was Björn and me against the time.
“Don’t be fooled by the phrase “training race”. I´m still nervous as hell before every so-called training race.“
– Björn Menges
It’s been a tough run! Fortunately, Björn felt so sorry for me after sucking my slipstream for about 2km, that he moved into the front. With about 1.5km to go, digging deep, we swap positions again finishing together after 15:35min. That hurt! First thought: thank god it’s over! Second thought: that’s just a few seconds off the second half of the 10km race. I can’t be satisfied with this! There’s more potential in us to be discovered.
Two massive PBs within 6 weeks. But what’s next? How about a 3000m race on the track in four weeks? Wait. What? A track race? Cling together, swing together. Let’s do it! Another three weeks of solid training followed. Despite the short speed sessions, I still maintained a weekly mileage of 100+km. I simply can’t let go of the long-distance entirely. The week leading up to the race I took very easy. My first real pre-race taper week in a very long time and my legs weren’t used to that. They felt sluggish from doing nothing. I just told myself, that on race day everything will be alright again. Mind games.
Pushing each other, no matter what (Björn)
For this reason, I’m very thankful to have Flo as the perfect training partner. Not only does he encourage me every time before a race and tells me that it’s not as bad as I think, but also because I simply run better and faster in training with him. As you can imagine it was not always easy to train without Flo in preparation for the 3000m race.
Every time before a tough session, I motivated myself: “Okay Björn, if you think you’re running fast, Flo will go even faster”. And so I pushed even harder. After finishing the sessions I immediately checked on Garmin Connect what splits Flo ran and if his session wasn’t visible yet, I updated the app continuously. “How did he do? Was I as fast as him?” That helped me to stay motivated especially during the last two weeks before the race.
Raceday – 3.000m
Here comes race day. Little warm-up run, the usual warm-up drills instructed by Brian and some strides to get the legs used to the speed.
“Each of us ready to fight his own battle and with Flo, I finally had my companion at my side again to dig deep. To fight against a distance that I never ran before at a speed I could not have imagined a year ago. But with Flo, it looked doable.”
– Björn Menges
Björn and I were fortunate enough to line up next to two other high calibers, Felix and Marvin, as well as Coach Benny as the pacemaker for the first kilometre.
Benny led us through the first kilometre in around 2:57min and dropped out. Immediately, Felix took charge and moved in front of me leading the train. Meanwhile, I just followed. I had no idea about the pace, as I didn’t have any look at my watch past the 200m mark. At around 2.1km Felix moved aside and I was in charge to lead the pack. Still no idea about the pace, I just kept going by feel.
With 300m to go, Marvin charged past us and Felix followed him. Simultaneously, Björn started dropping slightly. I tried to stick to Felix and just do what I always do with Björn in training: increase the speed in the last bend and fly past him with 100m to go. And that’s exactly what I did! Boom! Second place but more importantly a superb first 3000m time.
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