I am a mother, and I am a runner, and I am tough. I am, in fact, one tough mother runner. But, I have a confession to share with you, dear readers. I am a slow runner. I not only run at the back of the pack, but the pack usually leaves me behind.
This is something that has really bothered me as a runner. I feel like less of a runner because I am not up there in the pack. I comforted myself with the multitude of motivational posters that told me, “It’s OK. At least you are running.”
During my training for the half-marathon, I always skipped my speed workouts. My coach always encouraged me, nagged me, and told me flat out that I needed to do the speed workouts. I tried them. I really did. But I just hated them. I kept telling myself, “Oh you know – I run hills. That’s my thing. And you know what they say, “Hills are the new speed workout.”
I read about tempo runs and varying your speed when you are training. For me, I have two speeds: running (slowly) and walking (aka not-running). Therefore, tempo runs have not been in my workout routine.
However, this is going to change. I made the decision today that I am not OK with being the person who runs in at the end of the race. I am not OK with skipping important parts of training just because I don’t like it. And, I am not OK with being the slowest runner in the group.
It’s time to do something different.
It’s Time …. To Fartlek
Ha! Actually, fartlek means “speed play” in Sweedish. Fartleks are a type of training that incorporates both continuous training and interval training. The intensity of the workout varies, and this in turn, causes stress on the aerobic and anaerobic systems of the body. Incorporating fartleks into your running training can improve your speed and your endurance.
This is the result I want.
In simplest terms, when you are doing a fartlek workout, you will alternate running fast, intense runs, followed by slower speed recovery jogging. You repeat this cycle until the workout is complete (usually within a set time frame of 30 or 45 minutes). While it’s not absolutely required that you have a time or distance established for your fartleks, I have to say that I prefer a structure enforced around me. I’m far less likely to go easier on myself if I have a specific schedule that I need to adhere to.
In my research, I found that there are limitless variations of intervals. You can select landmarks on a run, like a light pole or a tree, to space your fast and slow runs. Other runners prefer to use specific times set on their running watches to time their fartleks. My experience is that many people like to do their fartleks on a track. Big Buddy likes to do fartleks this way. He runs fast on the straight portions of the track, and slow on the curved edges.
I am committing now to do fartleks once per week to help me improve my running speed.
I believe that I’ve essentially trained myself to run one speed – slow. To change this, I’m going to practice running fast in order to increase my running speed.
I’m certain that my neighbors won’t be posting this sign anytime soon in our neighborhood. I’m equally certain that with my commitment to fartleks, I’ll be able to improve both my fitness and my running speed. Let’s do this.
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