Monday, March 29, 2010

Farleking Shawty

Once a week, my training schedule demands that I do some sort of speed work. These might include a tempo run, interval run, track work or (brace yourself for this one) a fartlek. Isn't that a great word? It makes me smile every time I write it and chuckle every time I say it. Fartlek supposedly is Swedish for "speed play" but I have my own theories about the origins of the word. Very few people know this about me, but I tend to pass some loud and long (but surprisingly unsmelly) farts during my speed work. It's probably for the best that I do these workouts on my own. I can't help but wonder if fartlek really is Swedish for interjecting a normal run with sudden bursts of gas as as opposed to sudden bursts of speed like those Swedes claim.

I woke up this morning feeling rather unmotivated. It was pouring down rain and windy outside when my alarm clock went off at 5:20 AM the first day back from spring break. I was still beating myself up and feeling sorry for myself about my unplanned rest week as I suited up and headed out into the darkness. The first half mile I took inventory of how my body was feeling. I noticed every little ache and pain, the quickness and sound of my breath and the uneven feel of my gait. Noticing these things made me realize that I'm not as injured as I thought I was. A little visit to Dr. John to pop my hip back into place to make both legs the same length again and I should be good to go. If I wanted some extra assurance, I could ask him to bring out the metal hooks to rub along my inflamed lower leg muscles.

My attention quickly diverted to another topic like it so often does while running. This time it was about the music playing on my iPod. I have a bunch of hip hop songs and have found that many of them use the term "shawty". "Shawty fire burning on the dance floor..." "Shawty like a melody in my head..." "Shawty had them Apple Bottom jeans..." I wonder if I could pass for a shawty. Next thing I knew I was envisioning running the marathon with "Shawty" printed on my race bib under my race number. Geez, that'd be a nightmare! I'm no shawty! In fact, I'm not even exactly sure if I know what it truly means. I recently had to look it up in the Urban Dictionary and it had many entries some of which I would NOT want to be.

My run-right-out-the-front-door-at-the-butt-crack-of-dawn entails running an out and back on the scenic and heavily trafficked (aka safe) River Road. I get to run by endless fast food restaurants who omit odors more offensive than the numerous gas stations that I pass. One thing that I either love or hate, depending on the type of run I'm having is that there are a number of stop lights that I have or get to stop at. I am not the type of runner who runs in place while waiting for the walk signal. I tend to stretch and/or pound on the button to trigger the walk signal. I have this reoccurring fantasy of pulling out some hip hop moves and dancing to my music while I wait. If you were a driver heading off to work, wouldn't that just make your day seeing some runner getting their groove on at a stop light? Especially if I gave my "big bootie a smack... and got low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low." Y'all listen to Flo Rida, right? If not, there's a link to you tube at the bottom (pun intended) of this post.

For whatever reason, this silly thought while waiting for the light to change, turned as dark as the sky this morning. I was dressed from head to toe in Sporthill with a variety of other runner accessories waiting at a stop light when a non-friendly voice called me a poser. What? Who said that? Oh, it was me. The negative internal conversation went on for a minute or so before I realized what I was doing to myself. I had to knock this off. To rid my mind of these thoughts I did the first thing that came to my mind. I ran as fast as I could. Dang that felt good! I coasted along feeling better. Next thing I know, another negative self deflating doozie of a thought came to mind. I sounded the buzzer (similar to the one you hear in Family Feud when the survey didn't say what I contestant had hoped) and took off running as fast as I could until I hit the next telephone pole.

Suddenly it dawned on me that I had invented a new version of fartlek. It was brilliant! My life coach would be so freakin' proud of me. Anytime I had a negative thought, I'd make a mad dash for the next landmark a ways down the road. I got in a many good bursts of speed during this mere four mile run. I was out for blood this morning and feeling mighty guilty for being mean, inadequate, inattentive or what have you. Once I reached the desired landmark during my surge, I'd slow down feeling more energetic, stronger and would replace the negative thought with a positive affirmation. Am I on to something here? Perhaps I have a running-self-help book in my future?

My first run of the week turned out to be an interesting one that got me over the hump that I previously couldn't seem to get over. For that, along with many kind, encouraging words from my family and friends, I am grateful. I was able to go out for another run after work that same evening. It was a fantastic eight mile tempo run in which I acknowledged my strengths and observed how all the different parts of my body were working together. It was work, but it felt great. I found that when my mind was strong and my feelings were in check that the running came naturally. I was even brave enough to envision what I would look like come marathon day and what the clock would say as I ran joyfully through the finishing chute.


  1. This is definitely a classic running blog entry. I may have to have a sign for May 2nd with "Go Shawty" on it (I checked the definitions and think 'a sexy gurl fits'). My guess is that it will cause you to speed up each time as if to say, "I don't know that guy".

    I'll be watching runners at stoplights from now on looking for those who are getting their groove on. As for fartlek ... it may have something to do with going faster, passing gas, and saying "lick my fart" to those not able to run fast enough to stay out of the zone.

    You are an inspiring runner and a hilarious writer. Here's to more of both.


  2. This is great! Love the new strategy!