Week 5 and how fartleks are like the last day of term

I remember when I first did a fartlek run. It made me feel like a proper runner, using terms like fartlek. I must know what I’m doing now.

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Fartlek is another word borrowed from the Scandinavians. This seems to happen a fair bit in running. ‘Strava’ too comes from Swedish (meaning ‘strive’ for the knowledge thirsty of you). Why not use their words, this is a collection of nations who invented Ikea and the Northern Lights so they obviously know what they are doing. Now you get the random picture above.

Thats all very well but why are fartleks like the last day of term? This is, after all, how I’ve got your attention in the first place. Let me start with why I love run schedules. This all comes back (yet again) to the fact I’m a bit of a nerd. I like to be told what to run, when to do it, how far to go and how fast to do it in. Then I know I’ve ticked all the boxes so come race day I know that I at least have done my bit!

Imagine my horror when I came across such a run as a fartlek run. These are fairly standard in running and you’re unlikely to encounter a training plan without one. This doesn’t mean they can’t unnerve me. During a fartlek run, there is usually a mile or two warm up followed by an alloted time or distance where you have spells of running as fast as you like for as long as you like. I’m sorry, what? Run for as long as I want? As fast as I want? This is not good for my teacher’s pet approach to running of always do what the schedule wants! Next you’ll be telling me to go on a guided city break and when I get there to just ‘have a wander’.

OK would you just tell us about the last day of term. I know that’s what you’re thinking. I can’t believe I’ve gone on about fartleks for this long either. It’s the same really, just when you’re used to going to school and having the same old lessons, the last day of term comes along and it goes crazy. Bringing in board games, sitting on tables, drawing on shirts. At least that’s what it was like back in the day.

But…in the same way as it was back then, just as fartleks are now, it’s a nice change!

Right, back to running, this is how week 5 eventually panned out:

Mon: 5 miles easy
Tue: 5 miles fartleks (what, fartleks??)
Wed: 5 miles + 6 miles easy
Thu: 8 miles, inc 10k negative split (first 5k 23mins, second 5k 20mins)
Fri: 8 miles easy
Sun: 17 miles easy (2hr 15)

It was actually a monumental week as it’s the longest running week I’ve ever had. Popping in a 17 mile long run on Sunday always helped my cause there but I’m chuffed with 88km altogether.

Another highlight was my negative split run on Thursday.  These can generally be pretty horrific if you’re not in the right frame of mind.  Running the first half of the run at a reasonably fast pace, knowing you have to run the second half of the run even quicker.  Inevitably, during the first half you start to feel more and more broken.  The prospect of upping the pace at halfway just makes you wish your ham sandwich back at the office had worked harder to entice you back into your chair when you got up to go running. Somehow though when I did turn to up the pace at halfway, I settled into it in the end. Granted at first my legs had serious questions of exactly what I was playing at but they’ve become accustomed to such torment now and just sucked it up. I know you’re all on tenterhooks wanting to know what the pace trace looked like, aren’t you? No? Well just in case here it is:

Overly Scientific Negative Split Pace Chartweek5-neg-split

 

As I’ve already alluded to, the week concluded with my 17 mile long run. This was for the most without incident until the last km when I got an absolute soaking. Add to that the fact I’d already got 26km on my legs, I looked a fairly horrific example of humankind.

It is always at this time when you meet hundreds of people out walking their dogs or having a pleasant Sunday pootle around the village with the family. Then I lumber round the corner. I’m sure I can hear the stunned gasps; many shield their children’s eyes or make a grab for their dogs who have switched to family protection mode. Every part of me wants to explain that I usually look just like one of them, but I’ve just been running for 2 hours. I never do as I’m not convinced this will help my cause. So I just stagger on past sometimes uttering a hello but, having not spoken at all during my run, this is a huge gamble as to how that will come out. Again, quitting while I’m behind is usually the best way. Besides I’m normally buzzing inside because I’ve just been out enjoying myself and seeing scenes like this:

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My tardiness in my update means I’ve already got my teeth into week 6 which is planned out like this:

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I haven’t done it for a couple of weeks but wanted to thank everyone who’s contributed to the cause so far. I really appreciate how generous people have been and it genuinely helps the willpower levels when they are needed most. Usually when there’s a massive ham sandwich on my desk and it’s negative split day

Tom’s Just Giving

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Week 4 and the Elusive Runner’s Tailwind

Week 4 has altogether been windy. This will come as no surprise to many of you as you’ll have been outside. Wind is a real pain for us runners though (snigger – you know I don’t mean that kind of wind).

There are certain aspects of a windy day that you usually take for granted, which suddenly don’t appear to apply when you’re out running. The main one of these is this simple belief:

If you have a strong headwind and turn round to run the other way, you will now have a tailwind.

Sounds fairly straightforward doesn’t it? That’s what I thought. Until last Monday. I set off on my Monday recovery run and it was pretty blowy to say the least. You can see from the clouds it wasn’t that pleasant to be out:

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Hinton airfield 25/01/15

You’d be right to think this looks like an airfield. It is. I work within running range of two local airfields which are both littered with public footpaths. This helps to mix up the runs and seems quite high as far as airfield density is concerned. Anyway, you didn’t want to read about airfields, we were talking about wind.

I set out and the wind was really tough and right in the face. It’s hard to explain how strong the wind is in writing but it was strong enough to blow me into the verge a couple of times. This inevitably always happened when there was some oncoming traffic. To them, it’s not clear quite how windy it is so I imagine they think they’re approaching a seriously drunk guy staggering around with oddly reflective gloves on.

It’s ok though, this was a ‘there and back’ run so I’ll be flying when I turn round at the airfield to run home. You know where this is going don’t you? Of course you do, you’ve read the title. How is it then that when I turned round, lo and behold, there was no tailwind. It was still blowing in my face? This seems to happen again and again,surely it’s not just me?! Believe me, this is absolutely not because I’m running so fast I’m generating my own headwind.

The same goes for hills. I often do a circular route which is apparently uphill the entire time! Throw in a constant headwind on that circular route and you have the ultimate runner’s run!

Not that you’d guess from this opening tirade but it’s been a good running week and I completed my January running with a total of 263km for the month. This is certainly the best start I’ve had for any year.

It may have been a windy week but by Thursday it was at least sunny for interval day:

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After a weekend away, it was late on Sunday when we got back. The plan required me to run a sub-40 10k or sub-32 8k but at 9pm in the dark and drizzle I just couldn’t find enough willpower. I managed 10k in total but only a quick 5k in the middle. I made sure it was the same pace as intended though, even if it wasn’t as long. Something is better than nothing and life is going to get in the way of running again before the marathon I’m sure. Sometimes family and fun comes first.

In short this has been my week:

Mon: 4 miles easy
Tues: 6 miles half marathon pace
Wed: 8 miles easy
Thu: 8 miles intervals – 7x800m (3min 800m)
Fri: 5 miles easy
Sun: 6 miles, middle 3 at 10k pace

This week is really ramping up the miles now and in a weird way I’m kind of looking forward to it. Here’s the plan and I’ll let you know how I get on. You let me know if you ever encounter a downhill tailwind run too:

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