Friday, March 15, 2013

Fartleks...terrible name, amazing results!

You know when you go on a run and it just feels kind of blah? Kind of like you're slogging through knee deep mud... Well, that was my Sunday 13 miler, my Tuesday 11 miler and my Wednesday 6 miler. Not only was each less than inspiring, but I had the same average pace for all of them...seriously. The pace was okay for the 13, not great for the 11 miler and pretty poor for the 6. I finished the 6 miler thinking that my quads had turned to iron and that I would probably never run again if I could help it.

But then Thursday came and with it, the waffling commenced. Would I do the 8 mile fartlek that I was supposed to or push it off for a day and wallow in my three woeful outings? I decided to push it off and wallow. But then my sagacious husband reminded me that oh yeah, I was running 5 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday and that having a rest day in between the fartlek and the weekend fun was a pretty good idea. He urged me to just get out there, have fun and knock it out. Somewhat bolstered by his rationality and certainty that I would not die if I had to run one more step, I slumped out the door.

Fartlek Definition: A fartlek is similar to interval training in that you alternate short bursts with your regular running or slower jogging recovery intervals. There's no predetermined schedule to follow and you set your own interval speeds and lengths in response to how you're feeling throughout the run. It dramatically helps me concentrate on feeling my pace and my physical response to it...thereby better developing my own self awareness and pace judgement skills.

I'd struck a bargain with myself that if I did the fartlek on Thursday as opposed to delaying until Friday, I'd allow myself to do it on a flat route. Resigned to "knocking it out", I decided to run along the end of West Cliff Drive and into Lower Wilder Ranch. It's a gorgeous (see below) run and mercifully flat. The relatively smooth course, combined with the variety of a fartlek run successfully broke my streak of crappy runs. I finally had some fun running again! I love fartleks for that because their structure puts the onus on you and so you're constantly tuned in with your body, seeing if you're ready to go hard again. The run was some of the most connected I've felt to my own running in a long time.

Thank god for Fartleks...and for Graham who is my constant sissy barometer.

West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, CA
Lower Wilder Ranch, Santa Cruz, CA

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