Speed work for long distance runners. Trying to turn a carthorse into a greyhound.

You’ll have to excuse me if this post is riddled with typos. It’s hard to see what you’re typing when sweat is coursing down across your eyelids and making the keyboard slippery…

Yes, I’ve just been out for my weekly ‘fartlek’ session, which in my case means alternating one fast lap of a soccer pitch with 2 slow laps, until my poor old lungs make a break for freedom, which is generally when I stop.

Having upped the sand-dune count on my weekend long run in preparation for Hellrunner, I have to say that my legs weren’t feeling much like a fartlek session, and my performance was pretty woeful – and made worse by the guy walking his sheepdogs who allowed them to dance around my ankles for pretty much a whole lap of the pitch. I asked him three times, nicely, to call his dogs off, but he kept shouting things like: ‘Oh, they’re just having fun!’: right up until the point when I shouted at him to call his stupid mutts off or else.

Call me an old grouch if you want to, but in my opinion it’s bad enough having to avoid all of the dog poop that litters the pavements, fields and sand dunes I run through, without being tripped up by the over-excited dog of a sub-intelligent owner.

Worst of all, even when I was flat out, the dogs seemed able to dance around me at pretty much the same pace, without breaking a sweat. Which, if I’m honest, is probably what annoyed me the most.

The only consolation is in knowing from long experience that no matter how hard I find these speed sessions, I know that they make long runs and race days so much easier. And that’s why, next Tuesday, I shall again return to the local playing fields, there to suffer through 40 minutes of fartlek and short sprints, armed only with a stopwatch and the biggest damn dog whistle I can find…

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