Fartleks are funny looking, and funny sounding. Also: chafing (ugh)

I was going to use this post to talk about my weekend, but I have something much more pertinent to discuss: fartleks. Fartleks and hills are two workouts you should be doing if you’re race-training or just getting in shape.

Briefly, a fartlek is interval training. You sprint X-amount of distance, like 50-100 meters, then you immediately jog 200-400, depending on your abilities. You definitely want to sprint, or come close to sprinting, on your up-ticks. When you’re jogging, you are free to move much slower than your usual jogging tempo.

The purpose: It helps your aerobic and anaerobic abilities, it gives you practice on picking up your pace for a race even when you’re tired, and it mixes up your workouts so you aren’t running the same tempo all the time.

An advantage: Interval training has been shown to burn fat faster than tempo runs.

The disadvantage: You look like a freaking idiot.

For this workout, I chose to run the levee road/trail/path, because it’s flat and simpler to sprint on. It also has lots of markers for me to use to measure out sprinting vs. jogging distance. However, lots of people run this path, and most of them are doing your run-of-the-mill jog…

And then there’s me.

I’m trotting a few feet ahead of a jogger, listening to my iPod, when I hit a marker that indicates it’s time for me to sprint. From the jogger’s view, there’s some dude just trucking along, and then like a cheetah, BAM!, he takes off in a dead sprint for no apparent reason, only to slow down a 100 meters ahead and jog slowly again. He does this over and over again. “What’s this guy’s effing problem? What a n00b.”

The last thing you want to do is show up a fellow runner, who is only trying to make themselves better by getting out of the house and jogging. But when you’re sprinting past someone at full-speed who is already tired, you look like an asshole. Oh yeah, I was also shirtless. Double asshole.

But I don’t have time to explain to these people I’m not showing them up and that I’m fartlekking! I’m moving, baby! Plus, you typically don’t stop to talk shop with runners you don’t know. Creepy.

I felt bad about them thinking I was showboating. I also was a bit concerned I looked like a complete moron.

You’re guaranteed to look stupid. Get over it. I did.

Fartleks are also a great excuse to go on a shorter run, as they work you much harder than a tempo run. I recommend throwing one of these in once a week, or once every other week. You could alternate weeks between this and hills.

Quick recap of my 5K this last weekend: Attempted the negative split, and sort of did it right. First mile was 6:45, second mile was about the same, last 1.1 miles I ran around 6:30 or under. I didn’t pay that close of attention. What is important is I set my sights on one guy the entire race, and saved up energy for my last mile so I could try to close the 100 meter lead he had on me. I closed in and caught him with about 200-300 meters left in the race, then kicked past him for fifth place. Ran 20:35, which is decent. Got a medal, which was cool. The important thing about this race is I managed to not go out too fast and burnout half way through.

Chafing: I ran 14 miles Sunday under 50 degree overcast skies, with a mighty breeze, and sprinkling half way through. I’ve had some minor chafing incidents in the past, but this was the Perfect Storm for a chafe-pocalypse. By the end of the run, my ankle was bleeding, my nips were hurting (TMI), and my inner-thighs were torn up (more TMI). I was a freaking mess. Everything else felt cool, though. I recommend Body Glide, which I forgot to apply to anywhere that rubs too much while running.

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