Mini-Marathon: Sometimes, You Need to FartlekJanuary 27th, 2010 at 8:18 pm by Eric Halvorson under Eric Halvorson's Blog, Mini-Marathon
It can take me a long time to get home. Every Saturday, when I take off for my long run, I know I’ll be gone for awhile. I know almost exactly how long I’ll be gone because my pace is so steady. That’s part of the problem. I tend to run at one speed — all the time. I figure: I was never fast as a kid. So, why start now?
Julie Patterson, the Traffic Reporter on our Daybreak show, is a serious runner. She is also a trainer for the Fitness Concepts running and walking program. I asked her for advice on whether people need to add speed work into their training. She’s familiar with my attitude. She said it’s normal for people to just plan to finish the race — without regard to time — especially first-time participants.
Julie says, after a few weeks of training, you should have a good idea of how fast you can go without being winded. That’s the time to start adding a little speed work.
Occasionally, I’ll try something that, when I describe it, always brings a smile to the faces of the unfamiliar. It’s called Fartlek. That’s a Swedish word which, in this case, means you run faster for a little while. When I do it, I may use telephone poles as my guide. Run fast from one to another. Run slowly from that one to the next. Then repeat that pattern.
Julie suggests trying “tempo” runs. In that example, you would run a shorter distance than usual but at near your race pace. “In other words,” Julie says, that’s “a pace that is NOT comfortable having a conversation with your running buddy.” Try one of those a week. Then, think about interval training — such as fartlek — on another day. Julie says you can “do those on a track … or simply pick out the next mailbox” and run to it as fast as you can. “The distances will vary depending on your miles for that week.”
I remember a bit of training advice from my first Mini-Marathon program. If you’re going to do speed work, don’t wait to add it to your training. If you delay until the last few weeks before the Mini, the benefits will be minimal and you’re more likely to wind up injured.
That’s why Julie advises first-timers to find coaches. They can help set weekly mileage goals and offer guidance for how to include speed training.
I don’t have a coach. But, I may try to get a little faster. Not to cut my race time significantly. Just to get home sooner on those long runs.