The MONA Fartlek.

I really like this workout. The MONA Fartlek, the eponymous tribute to its creator (Steve Monghetti) is a fantastic test of anaerobic fitness. Not always so, but I have been using it as such. I don’t always look forward to the speed workouts; they are a relentless ordeal on the body – a compound of extreme pain and an insidious fatigue, but this one I have enjoyed so far. My enjoyment is likely tantamount to a inefficient workout overall however and I will explain this later. For now though, I like it, whether it is benefiting me or not. I feel like it is and the rest of you can shut up.

To digress briefly, I am sat here writing this in the canteen of Southampton General Hospital. To my right is a large gentleman putting away a cooked breakfast for his lunch. I am trying not to look but he does not look like he needs the calories. I believe he is sweating. I run for many reasons, but a significant and enduring one is my refusal to conform to my genetics. Cardiovascular disease runs rife through my lineage. I just do not want a heart attack.

Back to the topic at hand. I won’t go into the detail of this workout as there are plenty of blogs and instructive articles online. I will outline it’s skeleton briefly below for those of you that have not completed the fartlek yet. It is in total a 20 minute affair, with ever reducing subsequent intervals. The emphasis, as I loosely alluded to before, is on completing the rests at a significant pace and one that does not allow the body to adjust and recover. Hence my enjoyment of the workout may be a little misguided. To be clear though, I end each workout with my lungs as dry as the desert, so on some level, it must be working.

2 x 1min 30s (Equal rest floats)

4 x 60s (Equal rest floats)

4 x 30s (Equal rest floats)

4 x 15s (Equal rest floats)

That should, in total equal to 20minutes. I might have miscalculated, and if I have, I don’t care, look up the workout yourself. I am pretty sure it’s right so put your calculators away.


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Although I am training for the Brighton Half marathon, I have been running these intervals to 5km time more or less. What this means is – I should be running the fast interval at 10km pace and the rest at HM pace. On the contrary,  I am instead doing, or at least trying to do the fast interval at 5km at the rest at 10km. From the graph above you can see that this has not quite been the case. My mistakes are as follows.

  1. The onset of each interval scrapes 4:00min/km and rapidly tails off. I have a tendency to slow down before the onset of the rest which is not ideal. Bad me.
  2. The rests are slow. Too slow. Realistically I should have been at around 4:30-4:40. At the trough, the rests skirted around 5:20 which is ridiculous. I may as well have tucked myself into bed.
  3. The last 15s splits were quite happily incoherent. Realistically, the last 15 strides are meant to be a real test of anaerobic effort at fatigue. So they should be run faster, much faster than the original 2 intervals and as can be noticed, this was once again askew.


In total I managed 4.40km in 19:53s (4:30min/km) pace. This equates to about 4.44km at 20minutes. Previously I managed 4.38km in 20:20, and so a demonstrable, if small improvement. I am quietly confident that Mo Farah is not going to be shaking in his boots but I’ll take any improvement at my stage. En route to the 20min 5km, this is only 500m off, which is hugely reassuring. If I can tidy up the above mistakes than I have no question that this could be improved even further. I’ll be repeating the workout in February once again and it would nice to get on the business side of 4.5km. The trick really is going to be the rests – keeping them above 5:00min/km. That should be enough.




Final Run of the Year: 10km


The last run of the year took place in Poole Park. I woke up several times in the night in anticipation, quietly unrested and in the sonic assault of the lubricious south westerly wind. The windows rattled and rocked and I slept  a little more. I woke myself up at 5am to prepare myself for the run but didn’t actually head out into the world till 6am. I wish I could tell you of some more romantic interim that occupied me for that hour, but I simply lay in bed and as these things do, the hour passed by with a timely celerity.

The plan today was to end with a gentle paced 10km, perhaps laced with a series of 200m strides. I chose to keep things simple however with a gentler 5:00min/km run which quickly settled into 4:50min/km average pace overall. The workout is linked above and the splits and route are shown below.

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There was a momentary pause just after 3km where my left shoe lace wriggled itself free and I had to pause to do it up. This literally never happens to me and it’s rarity was rewarded with 500m of questioning why it had come undone in the first place. To ensure it remained done up, I added some tightness for added measure into the double knot and as a result, spent the rest of the run wondering if my foot was going to fall off.

Poole park reveals itself fairly clearly on the enclosed map. The greatest part of it’s composition is water, much like the people who use it for their pleasure. This water is enclosed exclusively in the large boating lake across the centre of the map. After dark, there are a choice selection of lights both in the park and around the lake which can make for a treacherous affair. Of them all, the westerly side is the most taxing with almost no light whatsoever owing to an imposing raised train track running briefly alongside it. At appropriate intervals a series of lights appear that quickly conform into the shape of a train which hurries past, seemingly as keen to distance itself from the park as you are to remain.

The run today was something of a solitary affair. Not uncommonly, as the run progresses another runner or at least the morning dog walkers arrive and do their best to hinder your progress throughout your run. Today they kept their notable absence perhaps mourning the loss of another year and their slow inevitable march into oblivion. Under the suggestion of the rising sun a cyclist passed by at the north end of the park as I sought to complete my final split around the cricket bowl. As I finally rested I sat on a bench and if by magic a young female runner appeared out of nowhere, doing a frighteningly good and uncompromising pace. She looked strong. I was glad I had finished.

I have spent some time reflecting on the year’s numbers and as a well seasoned statistician who only believes in quanta, these are my achievements. I should add that my running calendar only seriously began in August and hence my embarrassing numbers. There’s no easy way to sell mediocrity.

Total mileage: 1,620km (total runs 177)

The trailing 90 day km gives a good example of when my running really began. See. SEE?

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I have broken all but my HM and Marathon distance PBs. Screenshot 2015-12-31 12.35.14.png

The ones I really care about are 1 mile, 5km, 4mile, 10km, 10 miles and HM and FM. To be clear, I have not tried to run a mile or 8km to speed. I will come back to PB goals for the new year in a post, well, next year.

In any case, I am aware that my running career has been somewhat remiss and anergic. I can’t really explain why that might be the case but I suppose  to some extent, this reflects my parochial views on health and fitness. 2016 is only a date but that cannot mean that we cannot endure. The pain is a part of it but even that is not so bad. At some point the endurance will become tolerance and hopefully a galvanised inurity.