Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Day 10 - Something to prove

Type - fartlek training

Distance - 4 miles

Time - 30 minutes 31 seconds

As you may have gathered I didn't enjoy yesterday's run. Slogging round a four mile course with a swishing weight of creamy pasta in your stomach is not much fun. Although I managed to get a decent enough time I was keen to go on another run this evening to try and obliterate the memory of an unpleasant session. Doing two consecutive runs is not necessarily the most sensible thing to do during training, but given the low overall distances I thought I would be able to get away with it. Just to mix it up a little I decided to run the same four mile course as yesterday (slightly amended back to the original course given Arsenal wouldn't be playing tonight - map), but to do a session of fartlek training. As previously mentioned fartlek training essentially involves steady running interspersed with bursts of much faster running for a set distance or time.

The idea behind this form of training emerged in the 1930s and was developed by the Swedish coach Gösta Holmér. The Swedes had been comprehensively thrashed by their Finnish rivals throughout the 1920s, and Holmér's plan was designed to redress the balance. Fartlek, meaning "speed play" in Swedish, is a form of conditioning which puts stress mainly on the aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise. The difference between this type of training and continuous training is that the intensity or speed of the exercise varies, meaning that aerobic and anaerobic systems can be put under stress. So whether it is bursts of sprinting or changing the gradient of the run for a distance the body will benefit from this comprehensive training.

I started with a five minute warm up run, steady jogging up until the start of Petherton Road and then sprinting for about 500 metres. Back to steady jogging, until my breathing had returned to normal, and another burst of speed. This was repeated about five times until I was absolutely knackered. Fortunately I didn't have any problems with breathing, cramps or lactic acid build up, but my legs were aching. This must have been the result of back to back runs, and another lesson in the importance of proper recovery periods in training.

I had a long steady run along Highbury Grove, along Highbury Hill, climbing up the brow of the hill and, in the sense of changing gradients, continuing with the principles of fartlek training. Then a long sprint downhill towards Arsenal tube station, and then an unsteady, jelly-legged jog towards home. By the time I got to Blackstock Road I was on about 28 minutes, and less than half a mile from home. I wanted to get under half an hour, and managed to put in a final sprint. It was just too far, and I came in at 30 minutes 31 seconds. Still, this was 3 minutes 38 seconds quicker than yesterday's run, and 4 minutes 52 quicker than Saturday.

The emphasis for the next few sessions will have to be on extending the distance, but this sort of time puts an ambition to run the two 10k runs in 50 minutes within reach.

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