I'm going to race a 5K this Saturday, the morning of my pacing duties.
To that end, I decided to indulge in a little specific work, a few days out. Not to improve fitness, so much as improve my capacity to use the fitness I've got. Semantics, maybe. But something many smart people encourage, for reasons ranging from muscle tuning to "because it works".
Either works for me.
In any case: 2 miles easy, 4 x 400 @ 80 seconds, 4 x 400 @ 70 seconds, 4 x 400 @ 65 seconds, 2 miles easy.
I hit the last 400 at 64 seconds, if I'm being specific, which conjured up the question of whether I could run under a minute when fresh.
At the moment, no. But with focused work, and a drastic reduction in my easy running, I think it'd be possible in somewhat short order. A couple months? Maybe?
Will I actually attempt this? No. My broader goals, such as they exist, are at much longer distances. Just yesterday, I wrote about how I'd attempt to train for a hypothetical 100 mile race, which is quite a bit further than 400 meters. And while that is very hypothetical, I don't see myself really getting inspired by anything shorter than 13.1 miles in the near future.
Ideally, what I'd like to see is this: I continue my several weeks long now focus of including a myriad of paces, of doing actual workouts, rather than falling back into my volume for volume's sake habits. Gradually, as those weeks become months, and months become years, I'll get progressively more fit. That is at least somewhat the goal, right? And whether it's foolish or not, I really can't believe that I've maxed out my abilities, such as they are. (Though inevitably, that point will come. I won't acknowledge it except in hindsight, of course.) Subsequently, my workout paces will organically drop, and a sub 60 second 400 will be academic.
Ideally, of course, is not reality. And the truth is that nobody I know is really satisfied with their fitness. In fact, just about all of them - across an incredibly broad swath of abilities - classify themselves as pretty slow. I certainly count myself in that group.
The pleasant side to all of this is that those same people - and myself - enjoy the training for its own sake. And so, neurosis and self effacement aside, we all blissfully indulge in the process, outcomes be damned.
Strange hobby we've got.