Time trial: Measuring your current level of performance against the clock on a mapped out distance. In essence, evidence of running the same course regularly in order to see how much you’ve improved or worsened. In most cases, the route is either 5km or 8km.
I can still remember my very first time trial (TT). I was new to running and up until that stage had only attempted one or two 3km runs around the block near our complex. However being a seasoned runner, and having made it sound so easy, KK convinced me to join him at the Tuesday RAC time trial at the Old Parktonian Sports Club in Randburg.
Bubbling with nervousness and excitement, I joined the other runners gathered at the meeting point on the field. After the usual race announcements, we all headed out. As the runners reached the first corner, I was already exhausted and needed to walk.
(For those who are familiar with the time trial route at RAC Running Club, the 1st km starts out on the cricket field and then weaves onto another one. In fact, the first 800 meters feels as if your feet are being sucked into the ground as you run on lush, green grass until you reach the gate leading on to the busy street.)
It came as a shock to my body and the more I walked, the more people ran passed me until I looked around and saw no one.
I was last. Stone last.
My first 5km time trial took me approximately 52 mins. Almost a full hour. By the time we finished (KK walked most of the way with me – bless him), it was getting dark and the majority of runners were getting ready to leave the club to go home. As happy as I was that I had completed my first TT, it did set in motion what would be my TT training in the future.
Since that day, I do not start with all the other runners. Why not? Simple: That mental breakdown of coming last it too great. It’s not worth that feeling of failure. I know that I most probably won’t ever come last again, but I’m not going to take any chances.
Nowadays, I like to hit the road before 17h30 and take my time. I also don’t have scores of athletes shooting passed me as if I’m standing still. I can concentrate on my own pace.
I still remember the day that two guys, carrying a canoe, came running passed me at time trial and I couldn’t catch them! Obviously training for some canoe race… I guess.
I also skip the 800m running on the field. It’s too draining. Mentally and physically. It’s as if I can’t get going and it saps me of all the excitement of the run. Running on grass is not easy. Well, for me at least.
No. I start where the walkers start (how ironic!) which then cuts the route down to almost 4.2km.
Judge me as you wish, but what matters is that it’s my training. It’s my time trial. It’s my run. And I’m there… doing it. My way.
Is it cheating? Maybe. But it’s what works for me. See you on the road!
Tuesday 27th September TT time: 33:05 Distance: 4.2km