Observations from an International Track Workout

Hello from Hamburg! Yep, still here. And yes, I did promise myself that I would work on my remaining Hood-to-Coast posts before posting anything else, but I had to share this with you first!

Tuesday night a colleague invited me to attend his local triathlon club’s speed session at the track. I was told the workout would be conducted only in German, but my colleague, Tom, who is English (and speaks very little German) told me he basically “can make out what is going on by watching everyone else.”

All I heard leading up to this event (from Tom, his wife and others in the office) was how challenging these workouts were. Tom assured me that there would be “all levels” of runners, but Tom is a 3:00:30 marathoner (London) and ran a 2:57:xx on the marathon leg of his 2nd Ironman.

Obviously, I was not really confident that we had the same frame of reference.

That’s Tom’s wife on the left. Isn’t she adorable? She is an Ironman. Correction: a sub-13:00 Ironman who got 2nd overall in her race and won her age group. Stud.

Needless to say I was a little nervous.

I wish I would have gotten Jocelyn‘s little reminder about my bad attitude or Elizabeth‘s encouragement before I got to the track, but unfortunately my company won’t pay for data roaming charges just so that I can access Twitter.

The Workout:

Tom and I were a little late so as soon as we walked up it was time to head out on a warm-up through the park that surrounds the track. The first thing I noticed is how fit everyone was in the group. I definitely did not get the feeling that this was the same “all level of runners” that I see at our local Greenville track workouts. I was Garminless (not intentional) so I am not sure how fast or how far we went, but if I had to guess, I would say we did about 2 miles around an 8:30 – 8:45 pace.

After that we went to the infield of the track and did about 20 minutes of running drills. It was all in German and the coach didn’t bother to translate (even though he spoke perfect English), but he demonstrated everything so I kind of just followed along. I am sure I looked absolutely ridiculous. The drills were tough and the distance was pretty far compared to the 20 yds. or so that we do at our tri club workouts. It was all very official and the coach had small colored cones to show us where we were supposed to pick up the tempo and where we were supposed to sprint out at the end. Fancy.

After the drills we did 3×50 and 3×100 yard progression sprints, also on the grass infield of the track. This wasn’t too bad since we had a nice slow jog back after each one. And finally after we were easily an hour into the workout, we got to the main set: 4 x 30 seconds “balls out” (Tom’s translation) with 15 seconds rest intervals. Repeat two times, with 5 minutes rest in between.

I was actually pleasantly surprised. I seriously thought it was going to be like 12×800 or something crazy like that. It is certainly tough to go all out for 30 seconds with such a short rest, but they went by really quick and there was plenty of time to fully recover in between.

We did a mile cool down at the end and then headed home. I will guess we did about 6 miles total? But not really certain.

Per the title, I’ll conclude with a few observations from the event:

  • The track was packed. There were at least 5 – 6 groups with minimum 10 people doing their own speed sessions on the track.
  • Everyone was very serious and focused. Not much joking around or socializing.
  • Everyone, I mean every.one. was wearing spandex shorts or pants. This was not just the tri club group that we were with, but also the other running groups. No exaggeration when I say I was the only one there in Nike tempo shorts.
  • No one brought water. One girl with our group had a bottle of sparkling water (how does that quench your thirst?), but other than that I saw very few people at the whole track with water bottles.
  • They follow track rules. If you are running slow, cooling down or on a rest interval you are in the outer lanes. If you are running fast and/or doing an interval, you are on the inside lanes. I will stereotype here…this is not surprising at all. It is very “German” to adhere to such tight guidelines. (They don’t jaywalk. You will be judged and probably reprimanded if you do.)
  • The track was really, really nice. It sits in a beautiful park, that is known as the “Central Park” of Hamburg, with packed dirt running paths all through it. It also has a packed dirt running path that was on a raised platform and circles the outside of the track a few feet away. Many people did their warm-up on this, then moved down to the track after. I wish I had a picture, but didn’t want to stand out any worse than I already did. It was really cool.

This was a great experience and I would definitely do it again if I am back in town on a Tuesday night and don’t have any work obligations. Tom and I are scheming on how I can manage a work trip around a race here in Hamburg. I am here 2 to 3 times a year, so I think it would be really cool if it works out. They have a big marathon in the spring and a huge triathlon in July, but apparently there are all kinds of smaller 1/2 marathons and 10k’s spread through out the spring and summer too.

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in running, training, triathlon, work travel. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Observations from an International Track Workout

  1. Christina says:

    You know, Germans have always been a meticulous bunch, they take sports pretty serious. ha ha! Have I mentioned how jealous I am of how often you get to go over? 🙂 Sounds like that was a really intense workout! (I’m actually considering trying for a race over in Germany myself, probably a Half, but I always go in July so I’m not sure what I can find in that month.)

    • Corey says:

      You go to the Southern part of Germany when you come over right? My coworker was saying that July was the most popular month for races here in the north, but that’s because it is so stinking cold in Hamburg the rest of the year!!

  2. Jocelyn says:

    Hahahaha – bad attitude! You know what I meant 🙂


  3. Terzah says:

    That actually sounds……sorta fun! I was scared for you (12×800–that’s about what I was thinking would happen too)–but it sounds like you did really well. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there, ya know?

  4. Laura says:

    Wow- that’s awesome! So funny that you were the only one in Nike shorts, must be a cultural thing? And you didn’t die- yay! 🙂

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