I have recently joined a running club and been on a few 10k runs with them. I really enjoy it so saw on their Facebook page a couple of sessions which are designed to improve speed and stamina. They said they were for all abilities so I thought I might as well give it a go!
I had a terrible time in PE at school as I was truly dreadful at everything! I wouldn't say it scarred me because I just always turned it into a massive joke but it certainly made me believe for many years that I was not built for physical activity. All my memories are of stumbling along miles behind everyone (be it in the 100m or cross-country) often giving up and walking because it seemed so pointless.
Well these sessions couldn't have been more different! There were a wide range of abilities there - from those who run way under 20min for 5k to those in the mid to high 30s. Instead of everyone being expected to run the same distance both sessions (one on grass, one on the track) were organised along the same lines. If you are fast you have to run further in the time. So last night the slower runners ran 500m intervals while the fastest ran 800m starting in groups at different points on the track.
The psychological difference this made was amazing! I knew the fastest guys would catch me and pass me but as I started towards the front and didn't once feel like I wanted to give up - I ran faster than I have ever run on my life in both sessions.
I was talking to the guy who organises these sessions and he said it would be completely pointless to expect all the different abilities to do the same thing and actually the effort involved from each person was equal no matter what distance you were running in the time.
Such a shame that running at school isn't structured like this (at my sons school it is still very much about traditional "races"). It seems so much more beneficial to focus on individual improvement rather than pitting the fastest and the slowest against each other x