…hang on, I’m already running…
And that, in a nutshell, is my approach to Fartlek. What’s that, I hear you say, it sounds like a bowel disorder…
Well, yes, it is a pretty funny name, but it’s Swedish and means “speed-play”. The plucky Swedes invented it in a period when the Finns kept on doggedly running faster than them (to cut a long story short).
In essence it means some time you run fast,s ome time you run slow, some time you run in a tiny circle going “whee-whee-whee” all the way home*.
Of course, the best time for speed-play would be well into the hours of darkness, when all good souls are a-bed, and the best place for speed-play would be the scary dark woods, yes?
So off I went, for my first foray into fartlek, armed only with my …arms… and an iPhone interval timer that makes a fog-horn noise at your chosen intervals (I’d gone for five minutes and two minutes on repeat, on the theory that five slow minutes would give me time to recover from two fast minutes, and possibly the noise of a fog-horn having just come from my bottom**).
I have to say, it was quite good fun – off went to fog-horn at the end of the first slow section, and off I went, head-torch just bright enough to stop me from running into a tree, and legs going nine to the dozen. A quick look at Strava doesn’t help – I was doing somewhere between five and nine minute miles, which I could have told you already. I think I was around the seven minute mark, maybe slightly slower?
Anyhow, I was getting into my monster-run-fast imagination and to paraphrase The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, “does imagination imitate life or does it imitate imagination”***. Or something like that.
From the side in the woods, I heard a noise – I turned and saw green eyes reflecting back at me. Yikes, monster!
No, it’s a deer, and it’ll run off in a mo. No, it will, honest. Well, soon, eh? Hmm. Better jog on.
Up the path a bit, and a noise from the woods – green eyes again – is the deer stalking me? That Queens of the Stone Age (think it’s “No One Knows”?) video springs to mind… hmm.
Is it peeping out from behind a tree, that’s really weird. OK, so now I can see the eyes clearly, they’re green, probably the right height for a deer, or maybe the right height for a black dwarf**** either? Double yikes.
So now I have a proper scare of a possible-monster to get me running fast, as well as the imaginary one. How cool is that? And scary, too, let’s not forget scary. That may well be the spike where I hit a 5 minute mile…
Yes, turns out fartlek isn’t only a funny name.
*One of these may not strictly be a part of fartlek, but I’m adding value, see?
**I have a waist pack, or bum bag, depending on how much you want to snigger. I don’t keep my phone up my bottom, nor does my bottom make noises like a fog-horn on it’s own. Well, not often. Well, OK ,a bit.
***OK, I admit that really didn’t work – for one thing you’d need to listen to the song “TV The Drug Of The Nation” to get the reference and then get the re-working of it. Frankly, it was never going to hit a wide audience, but it’s a good song, go listen to it…
****No, I’m not being heightist or racist – it’s a UFO thing, but you can find them in the bible, they’re in old novels like Don Quixote and they pop up in Scottish folklore – we’re talking major alien-pixie type stuff here.