Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The magic of the track

I'm typing this with leaden legs having had a quick lunch time session at the Don Valley Stadium athletics track here in Sheffield. Supposedly it's normal for the legs to feel more battered than normal if you aren't used to track running, and since its been 25 years since I was last on a track....!

As a nipper I used to run for Swindon athletics club and we'd train on the local cinder track at the Oasis Leisure Centre. I'm sure I've got rose tinted specs on but I used to love that feeling as a 14 year old accelerating into the final bend on our 300m reps. I can just picture now the clouds of moisture from our breath being picked out by the floodlights on a winter's evening. However today I could definitely feel the difference between a 40 year old has been and a lithe teenager. But there was still something of that magic as I walked out onto the track.

One of my most memorable days with the Swindon Club - for mixed reasons, was when our Coach managed to get 4 of us onto a junior race being held as part of a senior meeting at the legendary Crystal Palace in London. I couldn't believe my luck, as while I had no chance of a win (the fastest of our 4, a lad called Andrew Stanley was 2nd or 3rd ranked in the country for his age and I was usually half a lap behind in a mile race) but just the chance to run on the same hallowed tartan as my hero of the day Steve Ovett was a dream come true.

Unfortunately when we arrived we found out that the event had been shifted to another track and so we'd missed the whole meet. Obviously gutted we moped about until our coach managed to get us a chance to at least have a run. So the four of us did a kind of time trial, I think I came last but it's still something I treasure.

Today it was odd to come out to an almost deserted track. There was one sprinter just finishing his session off and then I had the whole stadium to myself. Considering it's the UK's biggest athletics stadium it felt a little bizarre, but I believe it's fairly typical that these facilities get under utilised. If you're into running I'd recommend searching out your own local track, there's a neat site for doing just that http://www.runtrackdir.com/
You'll almost certainly end up with lead legs like me but hopefully come away with that little bit of magic.

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