The blog about what we experience in our everyday runs

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Excuse me sir, did you just fartlek?

70 Days — 

While it has yet to be determined if the Swedes are gaseous runners, their term, fartlek, implies otherwise.

Perhaps it was the chipotle mayo on my ham and cheese sandwich today, or the Hershey's Kiss I ate as a mid-afternoon snack, or the insane amount of coffee I drank this morning, but for some reason I could not stop fartleking tonight.

Often I choose to write about others, but tonight, I'm taking the cake. Running down the Mall, I felt I needed to apologize for fartleking past a couple taking a picture as the sun set or to the pretty business lady walking home from work.

I admit, some fartleks were better than others and some lasted longer than others. There's really no determining factor in the intensity or magnitude of the fartlek. I could only feel the fartlek coming and then watch as my legs burned through the extra boost of fuel.

While I only momentarily experienced the aftermath of a fartlek, I feel for the victims of such Swedish torment. As the markets would say — blame it on Europe.

But unlike the fartlek's bathroom humor sounding, pre-school boy chuckling and near association to the popularized American euphemism for passing gas, the term is actually a very technical running word.

Fartlek, Swedish for "speed play," is when a runner will vary the speed of his workout based on time, milage, city blocks or some other form of measurement. Tonight, I chose to do a fartlek workout — I start running a normal pace and would increase my speed for one to two blocks, return to normal pace and repeat throughout the route. While there was a couple enjoying the sunset and business people coming home from work, there was no need to apologize.

I don't often discuss or give running advice on this blog — I leave that to the human-gazelle types. In breaking with tradition, I would strongly recommend a fartlek workout because it specifically trains the body to speed up and slow back to pace — a needed skill in a race. Certainly fartleks can be applied in multiple sports, as long as the principle of boosting speed is preserved.

When my dad introduced me to this term during a middle school cross country practice, I laughed and thought he was full of it. His explanation was: "No no, it's a real thing and it's a funny word to say too."

Well dad, maybe next time I'll yell fartlek as I sprint past a tourist. I'm sure it will be a guaranteed Sights in My Nikes. 

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