Toeing the line on a track can be daunting for post-collegiate runners who are focused on longer road races. The fast tight-turned races of indoor can be a shock to the system, but it can also be an effective method to mix things up during a long training block. Paige Biglin and Jack Schlabig took a few minutes to explain how they embrace and appreciate the opportunity of shorter, faster indoor racing as they work toward long-term road racing goals.
Paige Biglin: I unexpectedly fell in love with the indoor track in my late 20s. At Kalamazoo College, we didn’t have a track team, so when I first stepped onto the indoor track in a CRC singlet in 2010 I was rather naive. And even a bit scared! I had to learn about waterfall starts, cut lines, and even the number of laps in my race. Turns out (haha, see what I did there?) that I really enjoy the short intense distances, the chance to run fast in shorts when it’s cold and icy outside, and even the nerves. I know I’m at least 10, maybe 15 years older than my competitors but that’s really irrelevant when we’re wrapped up in trying to run 5:30 pace (and count laps).
Although I raced an indoor mile just last weekend and will probably give it another go in a few weeks, my big goal this spring is 26.2 at the Glass City Marathon. My 2:51 PR is over 5 years old, so it’s really past due to be broken. After 20 years in the sport, breakthroughs are rare but when my first response to the burning feeling in my quads last weekend was “YES,” I knew I’d reached a new level in my mental game that will be key in reaching my marathon goal.
Long term, I’m aiming to run sub-2:45 to qualify for the Olympic Trials. It’s not a sure thing. Truthfully, I probably have just a slim chance, but that’s what makes it worthwhile and exciting. I tried and failed to qualify for the 2012 Trials, but those several months were a wonderful adventure. Is it too cheesy to say it may have changed my life? Probably, but it did. I’ll be at the track and on the road (and home on my treadmill) chasing the long-shot dream this spring and the next couple years.
Jack Schlabig: One of the best parts of racing indoors is it’s easy to get in a rhythm and just zone out. Especially if the race is fast, all I focus on is the person in front of me. For some reason indoor races seem to go by quicker than road and XC races. Every indoor race will have a couple of benefits for me. They will help build my fitness, maybe I’ll run a PR and I can work on my race tactics. I know I’m in PR shape right now the key is just finding a race that sets me up to run fast.
Preparing for indoor for me is almost no different than preparing for any race. I try not to focus on any particular race throughout the year and just focus on the process of becoming a better runner overall. I don’t think “Oh, it’s time for indoor, I should do a bunch of speed work on the track.” My training doesn’t change that much even if the distance I am training for changes. I know I can get better doing high mileage and basic workouts; tempos, Fartleks, longer intervals and progression runs. I’ll do around 100-110 miles per week with 2-3 workouts thrown in. I’m not saying this plan works for everyone but it’s been working for me. This past buildup for Columbus was the first time I’ve run 100 mile weeks so I’m hoping my body has adjusted and I’ll make big improvements this winter.
Some of my goals for the spring are trying to break 25:00 at the shamrock shuffle, running at the Jesse Owens classic, trying to break 31:00 in the 10k and maybe running the cap city half marathon. I also just want to become a better runner overall so I try not to focus on times and individual races. I would love to qualify for the Olympic trials but I know I’m not there yet. This is my main running goal and maybe life goal but I’m still far away. I try to not focus on it because it’s such a daunting task, I’ve come a long way in my running career but I still have a ways to go.