Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Day 2 - A suitable interval

Type - Indoor fartlek training

Distance - 4 miles

Time - 35 minutes 37 seconds

The forecast was for heavy rain, so I decided to take my training inside and experiment with different forms of training on the treadmill. The early evening turned out to be gloriously sunny, the drenched pavements drying quickly from their afternoon watering. But I was wedded to the idea of trying out training in the gym, so I made my way over Clissold Park to the Clissold Leisure Centre.

Hackney Council came in for serious stick for its decision to concentrate leisure provision on a brand new, flagship and, almost inevitably, millennium-celebrating leisure centre. Clissold Leisure Centre was duly born and a ‘landmark’ building commissioned and built. The Council opened the new centre to great fanfare and quickly shut two other centres. Unfortunately the new centre was a flawed design, poorly executed. Within days there were complaints, and soon the centre had to be closed for repairs. Years would pass, with Hackney in the unenviable position of having no leisure facilities.

But that is in Clissold’s past, and its present (and, hopefully, its future) is far more promising. I like the centre; the gym is well appointed, bright (one positive result from the large glass roof and front which caused much of the historic problems) and packed with modern CV and resistance equipment. It gets fairly busy, but even at peak times there is barely a queue for the treadmill.

So on to the training. In undertaking training for a long distance run I knew I was going to stray far from my comfort zone of very gradually building up speed and length of time on a flat gradient treadmill. I would have to run outside, up hills, do interval and gradient based training. Reading through my training book it turns out I would also have to do tempo runs, interval training and the rather disturbingly named fartlek training. I had to go with the odd name first.

Fartlek (meaning ‘Speed Play’ in Swedish) training involves varying the pace of running significantly, and is usually employed on outside runs where the burst of speed can be maintained to get to a certain landmark. I employed a variation on this theme by having a steady 10 km/h warm up, recovery and cool down speed interspersed with bursts of up to 16 km/h sustained for up to 3 minutes.

I can now fully understand why it developed as a popular form of training. It is tough. I was absolutely dripping with sweat after finishing the 4 mile target in 35 minutes 37 seconds. But it induces the very positive feeling that you are pushing your body to new, tougher limits. It is certainly a form that I will be incorporating into my training.

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