Monday, February 6, 2012

Fartlek by Numbers

A fartlek appeared on my training schedule today for the first time and frankly, the instructions that accompanied it incited terror in me:
Keep it unstructured.
I am the queen of structure, patterns, order, round numbers, rows, and columns. I am also the queen of just tell me what to do and I'll do it.

I headed bravely to Virginia Tech's grassy South Rec Fields where I would be unconstrained by boundaries of road, trail, or walkway. Off I went. Just me....and the Garmin, the heart rate strap, the foot pod, the iPod....

Almost immediately and without trying, patterns emerged, compulsively.
  • 5 light poles; rev it up one gear as you reach each pole so you are sprinting between the last two.
  • 4 light poles: build from easy to sprint between each pair, back down again and repeat to next pole and so on.
  • 20 steps fast - 20 easy - 19 fast - 19 easy - 18 fast - 18 easy (need I go on?)
  • Long embankment? Straight up, down at a diagonal, repeat until hill is gone
  • Cooldown serpentine

I did try to tap into my creative side and make a flower pattern - bounding across the straight sides of the petals and jogging the loops. Except on that big grass field I kept forgetting where center was.

I skipped and leaped and walked. It was my version of reckless abandon.

The horse folks among you will recognize similarities to dressage (did I ever tell you about the show weekend where I rode SEVEN different tests from memory?). My fartlek included serpentines, diagonals, tempi changes, extended trot, medium trot, and halt!

Definitely a fun run in spite of a little structure. And maybe because of it!

Incidentally, I think I found my new swim partner. My 11-year-old has found some speed and has decided he likes racing!!