Monday, May 01, 2006

Interval Training Highland Style

In retrospect, one of the reasons to turn my life inside out was the revelation of too much "used to" in my life.
"Do you like to dance?"
"Do you dance a lot?"
"I used to."
And so on.
I used to love to run. I was never one of those sleek, marvels of efficiency moving effortlessly mile after mile. I was more a dumpling pumping and weaving inefficiently as I felt the wind in my hair and thought about anything and everything. The first time I walked under the Big Sky of a summer day in the North of Scotland, I felt like running again.

And so between that first revelation and today I am on my way to reinventing myself as a hillwalker. The word "hill" over here does not necessarily mean an elevated piece of ground. It can refer to rough ground of any height. So on the way to becoming a hillwalker I am walking the farm roads and across the fields and sometimes down to the shore of the firth. As I have gotten stronger I have taken longer and more frequent walks. And now I am doing the hard work of interval training once or twice a week.

In previous incarnations, I have done interval training--running or walking as fast as you can for a given amount of time, taking time to recover and then going at it again--on a track in primary school, with my daughter's soccer team, or on a paved pathway around a retention pond in an apartment complex. I never really enjoyed it. It was always a means to an end. And I was always alone when I did it.

I have been training on the road between the fields and up the farm road for a week but now the cattle are out in the field, so they follow me down the road--keeping on their side of the fence and eyeing me curiously. And when I come to the end of their field, the next group are huddled tightly around the corner of their field waiting for me. As I pass, some of them watch me intently and then get on with eating; a few turn to watch me. Out of the corner of my eye I see them, but my watch says it is time for a fast interval, so I kick it into as high a gear as I have. Some cattle scatter, some remain huddled at the gate, but one, half-grown calf comes along with me, keeping pace with a lot less effort than I am making. He follows me to the end of the field and sends me on my way with a little rocking kick of his back legs--a bovine happy dance. I laugh out loud with the little bit of breath I have left.


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