Running to the tune of Coach’s whistle

For those of you who were not out running early this morning in Delhi, let me say, quite simply, that it was brutally humid.  Hot and very, very humid.

For those of you who were running this morning, you don’t need me to remind you of the cruel weather.  So let me just say “well done” for being out there, training 🙂

We were a large contingent from our ASICS Running Club to meet up before 6am in a Delhi sports ground, to drill and train and run.

Today we did an unstructured fartlek workout.

We’ve done many fartlek workouts over the 18 months we’ve trained together, and I’ve written about them, too.  Here’s the link to the most recent fartlek session I wrote about, dating from mid-May.

Today, though, was different in that Coach didn’t tell us in advance that we would do x fast reps and y slow reps.

Instead, we were to start running and then go by his whistle.

So we all set off running fast and waited for his whistle, and then ran slowly until the next whistle, and so on and so forth.

Coach blew his whistle in what appeared to be a random pattern, but I’m sure it wasn’t.  Sometimes the long-short rhythm would be regular, sometimes there would be a long fast section followed by a too short slow section 😛 and he varied the rhythm non-stop for 5 km.

Yes, it was exhausting.

But it was challenging and fun and though I felt a bit nauseous about half way through, I didn’t stop, and staggered on to the end. Coach stood there, throwing out his pithy one liners to encourage us.  At one point, when Coach was blowing his whistle quickly between the fast and slow sections (meaning they were each of a shorter duration), as I tottered past, he muttered something about how I could perhaps make an effort in the fast drills, since they were getting shorter.

Although I managed a fast pace at the outset, obviously I got slower as the 5.3km went on, but was pretty darn pleased that I finished it, with no goofing off.

I was wiped out, I have to say, and things were not helped by a fearsomely difficult yoga workout led by one of our tribe, Ajay Jaisinghania.

I’m stiff and un-supple at the best of times, but Ajay’s routine this morning actually had me teetering on the edge of tears.

Truly.

To be the only one unable to bend and twist, and the realisation that I’m probably too old ever to be able to work towards such suppleness was a sobering thought.

From the “high” of doing a good fartlek, I was almost in tears.

Stupid, but there you go.

Team photo, though probably more than half of the group had left, since it’s a working day.

Once home, I did a little online research about the benefits of unstructured fartlek & I’m sharing here a very useful article from the always excellent Runners World website, which has some interesting insights into the kind of unstructured fartlek we did this morning:

“…workout uses deception as a way of tapping into your hidden reserves. You may think you’re cooked when you finish a hard workout, but scientists have repeatedly shown that people can actually maintain a similar pace for another few reps after completing a prescribed workout. And the benefits can be substantial. In one study, cyclists who were fooled into riding farther than expected were subsequently able to race 13 percent faster when they knew the correct distance…”

Deception as a way of tapping into your hidden reserves“.

Now how interesting is that as a concept?  Certainly worked for me this morning.

And this next sentence could almost have been tailor made for a slow runner like yours truly:

“Don’t get hung up on pace—the goal is to push when you thought you couldn’t anymore.”

Somehow, something worked, because despite feeling super tired, after our ASICS session, I then went for a v-e-r-y slow 6km run with my running partner Ripu Daman.

I was quite convinced after the fartlek workout that I’d have absolutely no energy left, but those hidden reserves mentioned above actually came into play.

We went to check on the tree-cutting, by the way, and found no evidence of further tree cutting in Netaji Nagar, scene of our protests.

That was good news.

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