Triathlon – Run Training #1 (Fartlek)

My muddy running shoes
My muddy running shoes

It started ominously with terms such as ‘fartlek’ and ‘bumflick’, but I needn’t have worried it turned out to be a really good, tough run session.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, joining a triathlon club seemed to be the most logical step forward in my training programme so a few weeks ago I joined the Crystal Palace Triathletes, which is more or less my local club. I’d been aiming to mainly use them for swim coaching, but thought I’d give a go to the ‘fartlek’ run session. Fartlek is a slightly odd word and in many ways ‘interval training’ would have been a safer term and one that would cause fewer giggles and sniggering.

The seven of us assembled in the car park at Crystal Palace on a bit of a miserable slightly rainy day. We started with a bit of a warm up consisting of little sprints, bumflicks (another unfortunate word) and a bit of stretching.

Moving on we had a relatively steady jog out to Dulwich woods and then a bit of a muddy cross country scramble through the woods. I quite enjoy running through woods, but it was here we managed to lose one of our number who got lost and never quite found us again. A bit of a shame there.

As it was a bit muddy in the woods for sprinting, we run onto Dulwich park, did a little warm up circuit and was ready for the hard work. The coach Jon got us running three minutes of ‘faster than your 10k pace’ followed by two minutes of ‘normal’ pace. As this pace was a bit individual it strung the group out a little, but we always gathered at the end of each fast bit.

I found this session quite hard, but really good as I was being forced out of my comfort zone. A couple of times Jon got me to push things a bit more, which was really good. We did four fartleks and by the fourth one my legs were getting a little wobbly.

The hard work wasn’t quite over yet as still had to jog back through Dulwich woods and then back to Crystal Palace. The final challenge was a handicapped little race up a stiff little hill and even though I was pretty tired by this time I think I did pretty well. I was a bit afraid that everyone would be iron-man fit and I’d be wheezing at the back, but I was about average, in this group at any rate. By the time we got back to the car park we’d been out for nearly two hours which is the longest I’ve run for years.

Running is my best (or least worst) of the three disciplines and I may have been a bit complacent about my ability to challenge myself up to now. This session was excellent for me as it got me performing well above my normal training levels. It would be great to do a session like this once a month or similar.

Tired but happy.

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