Yesterday, I received my Jim Spivey Running Club singlet. It is yellow. Cost me $15.00. More than that, really, as it has also cost me $40.00 to join the group per month. $40.00 spent, and each new month, another $40.00. That's unless I upgrade to the $65.00, which I intend to once I get into the kind of racing fitness that would appreciate Jim figuring out daily workouts. Presently, I'm still getting into shape. That extra $15.00 would be a waste.
Either way, I've got a singlet. It represents more than a few bucks, and says more than how I spend Thursday evenings.
Why hire a guy like Jim Spivey? Can't I get into shape on my own? Thousands of runners race well each Saturday without the benefit of a coach.
At first glance, the easy answer is, "Jim's run a 3:49.8 mile," and then go on to list his other PRs. So what? He did not run that fast just because of a good coach. He's 5'10", a good height for middle distance, and, apparently, was born with muscles that could accommodate speed and endurance. Just because he has good genes hardly means that I will likewise run faster.
So the easy answer is really a flop. The real answer is that, to run the 3:49.8 and not be stuck at the 3:55 mark (not to knock that!), he needed a coach to squeeze it out of him. Workouts, form, and various intangibles are all part of what a coach brings. He's had Benji Durden and Ken Popejoy along the way, plus others. And, he's run side-by-side with the likes of Steve Cram and Seb Coe, and watched numerous others at a variety of other distances. And, he does his homework.
Homework? He knows his stuff, from things related to VO2 max, pulse rates, and bone density growth during sleep. I'll guess he's a stats junkie too. He is on top of the running scene, knows what's going on, and remembers it all. He's famous for his attention to detail as far as his own workouts and races go, recalling splits from races umpteen years ago.
The group is not a pile of speed demons. There are several who are certainly speedy, but no young bucks are walking cocky. Who could be cocky when Jim could put on his togs and give him the what-for on the track? I don't know what kind of fire power Jim's still got, but it is fair bet that even at 46, he can still take on the rest of the locals. No one challenges him - they, we trust him.
I don't know what yet to attribute to the specifics of Jim's workouts, and what improvements have come from just good ol' running regularly. I do know that on May 6, the day after my first JSRC workout, I ran a 27:54 5000 on the track, and on June 2, I ran 5K road race @ 25:12. Do the math -- that's a 2:42 improvement, a :52 a mile improvement. Not a bad month.
Getting out with the group each week reminds me I am not a jogger. My 20:00 5K goal is still out there, waiting for me. I am training for that. No one else will care. No one else will feel the same elation I will when I post a little note, just like this one, on this blog.
As I say in the description of the blog: What is the runner's dilemma? He must run, no matter what shape or situation he is in. The dilemma is finding a resolution despite being older, fatter, slower than when running was graceful.
That's the thing. When it all boils down to it, my victories are private. Even though all of it is blogged for the world to see, I'm the one sweating, aching, stumbling around this next morning. Alone, in my home office, typing these comments, my audience is small.
Who is impressed by a 20:00 5K? If I ran some amazing time for a 40 year-old, I might get a few pats on the back. Someone would buy me a beer (Bass Ale is a fine choice should this ever come around). 20:00 is nothing stellar. A few non-runners will be impressed, not realizing I wouldn't even win my age group. That's OK. I'll feel pretty good about it.
As I move forward, as my times drop, as my workouts are less about getting fit and more about fine-tuning my speed, working out under Jim's guidance will be clearly influential.
All that adds up to working out with Jim's club as a great thing for me.