Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Speedplay Day!!

That's right, today marks my first attempt to delve into the world of speedplay. Everything I've read, and all my fellow runners I've consulted, seem to think this fartlek thing is the best thing to happen since sliced bread. I, however, am skeptical.

"Speed play, or "fartlek" in Swedish (the concept originated in Sweden), is a free-flowing format in which you run faster for however long (or short) you want to."

"It's true: fartlek is almost as fun to do as it is to say. "Fartlek" is Swedish for "speed play" and consists of bursts of speed in the middle of a training run. Essentially, it's an unstructured interval session, the track without the rules. Fartlek gets your legs used to a variety of paces and in the process gives you an enhanced awareness of your ability to keep up those paces at various distances."

See, I'm not a "fast" runner. Really I'm not particualrly fast at anything. And to farther elaborate, I'm not really a runner in the typical sense. I'm no string bean, svelte and spritely lady effortlessly floating down the trail at 7min/mile pace smiling and conversing, all the while only working up a slight glisten. No, no. I much more of the stout chick plodding along down the path at (on my very best day) 9:30min/mile pace , sweating like my life depends on it, radioactively red in the face, gasping for air and occasionally grunting a response at my fellow runners. I don't make running look easy and effortless. In fact I feel as though I make the non-runner wonder why in the world one would want to endure such apparent torture. But when it comes down to it, I run. And my own dirty little secret is that I grown to really kind of enjoy running. I like seeing how far I can go, and next time can I get there a little faster.

How did I end up at this fartlek place? Well, last Friday on my short run, I decided that as it was a short run it would be a great opportunity to warm up and then all out run a mile to see where my 1-mile time is. What the hey. And so I did, and much to my surprise and pleasure I was able to crank out my timed 1-mile in the fastest time I have ever ran. Faster than in high school. And it was quite the respectable 1-mile pace if I do say so myself. So I may have cramped and had to walk 1/4m to recover, but that's so not the point. So if I've been able to slowly chip off time on my mile (and overall pace) just by running and adding distance, what happens when I kick it up a notch? Hmmmmm.

But I digress. Today is my first trip down the fartlek lane and I'm sure hoping its all they claim it is. I really enjoy my longer slower runs. But I'm hoping by committing my body to this speedplay thing once a week for the next several weeks, maybe my long slow runs won't be quite so slow. Or that when it comes to race day I can kick it into race pace and score some new PR's.

I'll keep you posted on if this speed thang is all they say it is.....

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