Thursday evening, seven thirty-ish, the 200-metre indoor track at the hockey arena. Time to run 4-minute intervals with AIK. Last week we did 4 such intervals, this week it is time to increase them to 6. A girl from the group asks me if I want to run the intervals with her, it can get boring to do them on your own. ”Sure”, I say, out of breath from our gradual acceleration warm-up, ”try” and it sounds like I'm daring her to try and keep up with me but what I mean, of course, in the shorthand way of talking I adopt when I don't want to waste precious oxygen on producing words when I can use it to keep my heart pumping instead, is that she can try and run with me without falling asleep while I try to catch up.
Earlier that evening, during my warm-up jog to the hockey arena, several body parts are complaining. My calves are sore. My head hurts. And my stomach is convinced it's getting the stomach flu just because everyone else at work has it (duh, it's not like it's contagious. Oh, wait...). So, when it's time for the intervals, I'm feeling a little apprehensive but I try to look tough, like I am Usain Bolt's faster twin sister or something.
My thoughts during the session go something like this:
1st interval: YEAH INTERVALS BRING THEM ON. It's hard work but not too hard. My calves are sore but I will beat them into submission. Because the best way to deal with strained muscles is to work them even harder.
2nd interval: One lap around the track, two laps around the track...this is getting monotonous. Are we there yet?
3rd interval: Why am I doing this? Oh, that's right, because I like doing well at races. I'll just hang in there, I just know I can do it!
4th interval: I CAN'T DO THIS! Ok, let's count backwards. Only three intervals left. 4 laps, 3 laps, 2 laps, 1 lap...weren't the four minutes up three minutes ago?
5th interval: Am I about to throw up because I'm getting the stomach flu or because I'm running too fast? Was I -gasp!- wrong in my assertion that my calves would like the tough love I'm showing them, seeing as they hurt even more now? And, seriously, why am I doing this? Is shaving a few seconds off my PR at my next race worth this?
6th interval: Let's lower our ambitions from ”I want to keep a 4:25 min/km pace” to ”Dear God/Allah/Buddha/Flying Spaghetti Monster, I am not even religious but please let me survive this and I will sacrifice a
worm mosquito (sorry, I'm
vegetarian) half-dead cactus from my kitchen window in your
honour”. Alright, just one more, just one more, just one m-- WHY
AM I DOING THIS?
An hour or so later, when I'm home, after a warm shower:
This was the best interval run of my life. WE SHOULD DO THIS EVERY WEEK.