Fartleking around

Getting back into the saddle – as it were – after nearly a month away is not easy, but it has to be done.

Even though I run when I’m traveling, I don’t train.

I don’t do intervals or speed training or fartlek.  I simply run.

And there is a world of difference between the two.

The fun part is the running & exploring new places.

The hard part is the structured training & that is reserved for my Delhi running group.

So this morning’s fartlek session was a brutal and humbling reminder of how much work goes into becoming a better runner, and how much one needs a coach and, let’s never forget, the generous support of a running tribe.

My tribe was in great shape today, by the way.

Great turn out, too, which is always a heartening scene.

Despite the heat and humidity – just a precursor to what is yet to come as summer proper gets under way – we worked hard, under the steady, guiding hand of our ASICS Running Club coach, Vijay Shukla.

Coach never gets rattled, never loses his cool, and manages to handle a large group of differing abilities, and motivate every single one of us.

So, yes, today’s fartlek.

First of all, what is fartlek, do I hear you ask?

It’s a Swedish word (like plogging, by the way!):

This is what it looks like, in a simple diagrammatic form:

Today we did 8 x 2 minutes fast + 1 minute slow, and if that doesn’t sound much, believe me, it was a killer.

Half way through my 3rd rep, I felt nauseous and slowed down and was, I admit, ready to give up, so soon into the session.

Eagle-eyed Coach was having none of it, and shouted at me across the ground to get moving.

So I did.

And the “crisis” passed, I finished the whole series, admittedly getting slower on each rep, but also feeling stronger as I went along.

It’s weird, feeling so exhausted but not allowing yourself to give in to it.

When the mind is stronger than the body, and you keep going because of that voice saying stuff like this:

Damned if you’re stopping, old girl.

Only 5 more reps to go.

Now 4.

See, you’re half way through, & the whole group has turned round and is now running in the other direction so turn round quickly, you old idiot, and don’t make a fool of yourself.

3 to go.

Only 2 reps left, and there’s Coach alongside you, saying imagine you are at the 40km stage of your marathon, only 2 km left and just go!

No, you are not giving up now, so stop moaning and run.

Just 1 rep to go, and there’s Coach smiling and signalling to you to stop, and you feel fantastic!”

And I did indeed feel fantastic.

Knackered. Red faced. But fantastic.

One of our tribe, Sunil Punshi, has been sidelined with injury for months, yet he still comes to every session and photographs us all in action (like yours truly, above).

He’s a great photographer & I especially love the slo-mo below:

Here are more moments from this morning:

Rachna (above) making a splendid re-entry into the group, after missing quite a few sessions due to her son’s accident, while Ripu (below) runs despite being injured.

After fartleking around, we did our cool down laps and stretched:

And then some of us plogged, rounding off an altogether rather Swedish session, including 2 new runners from the Swedish Embassy.

(By the way, won’t you please check out our plogging feed on Instagram? @ploggersofindia)

And here are our spits from this morning.

They’e not mine, sadly but Navi’s.

One day I’ll be as fast and as superbly consistent as he is. Until then, I’ll tag along in his wake.

And try and pass his splits off as my own 😛

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