Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fartlekking: The Official Sport of TAE


What with the summer in full swing, and the Tour de France about to start, TAE is feeling sporty. The last several weeks I've been back in the swing of riding my bike, and doing some evening yoga with my lovely bride.

But it seems like most of the sports I like, or even kinda like, are saturated with people. Last night at the spot where I was riding I passed or was passed by no less than a dozen riders.

So I decided last night that what I need is a new sport. It needs to have three basic criteria:
1. Not many people are doing it.
2. It must require intense physical exertion in short bursts. I'm not looking to get into ultra marathons.
3. It must not be expensive.

The Official Sport of TAE: Fartlekking.
Obviously, the funny name is the appeal here, but rather than a reference to flatulence, I am referencing the Swedish term for "Speed Play". Fartlek style training was developed in 1937 by Gosta Holmer as a way to boost endurance via aerobic and anaerobic interval training. A full explanation of fartlek-style interval training can be found here and here.
But while fartlek training sounds fun, the point there is training, not competition. TAE thinks that this could be easily adapted into a sport; fartlekking, in which participants race each other up and down hills in various terrains.

The Official Rules of Fartlekking:

Rule 1: Highest Total Points Wins.

Rule 2: An "up down" is defined as a single course that traverses from a point to another point. Typical "up downs" involve an altitude increase (and subsequent decrease) of no less than 100 feet and a distance of 1/4 linear mile. A single "up down" can be no longer than 1/2 linear mile in length, and can have a maximum altitude increase of 400 feet.

Rule 3: Competitor that reaches the endpoint of an individual "up down" gets three points. Second competitor to reach endpoint of an individual "up down" gets two points. Third competitor to reach the endpoint of an individual "up down" gets one point. All other competitors to reach end point of "up down" get zero points. Any competitor that does not successfully reach endpoint of an individual "up down" in the maximum time allotment gets a one point deduction.

Rule 4: No Blood Rule: Competitors shall be physically evaluated for blood at the end of each "up down". Any blood found shall cause that competitor to be deducted 1 point. Carryover blood from previous "up downs" that has already been penalized shall not be deducted again.

Rule 5: Weight bonus: Any competitor may carry extra weight with them during an "up down". The added mass shall be pre-weighed (or in known increments i.e. dumbbells) and the competitors weight shall also be recorded. A competitor may obtain a "weight bonus" for successfully completing an "up down" carrying extra weight. The bonus structure shall be as follows:
Carrying 5-9.9% of personal weight: 1 pt
Carrying 10-14.9% of personal weight: 2 pts
Carrying 15-24.9% of personal weight: 3 pts
Carrying 25% or more of personal weight: 4 pts
In this way, a competitor could theoretically earn more points for carrying a large amount of weight (and finishing within the time limit) than the competitor who carried no weight but finished in the least amount of time.

Rule 6: Water Rule: Water may only be considered "extra weight" for the weight bonus (see Rule 5) if the water is intact at the end of the "up down." For example, if a competitor started the "up down" carrying a gallon of water, but drank half of it, they'd only be awarded points for the half gallon of water they had not consumed. Similarly, if they drop and spill a container of water, they will not be awarded points for it at the end of the "up down."

Rule 7: Fartlekking paths may not follow pre-established hiking/mountain biking/walking trails for more than 50 consecutive feet. They may, however, follow game trails.

Rule 8: Fart Licking Penalty: Anyone who makes a joke about "fart-licking" is immediately deducted 3 points.

Rule 9: In the event of a tie at the end of series of "up down" runs, the two or more competitors that share a tie will compete in a single, sudden death "up down", fastest to the endpoint is the winner. No weight bonus shall be allowed during this "up down". No blood penalty shall be incurred.

Rule 10: Puke Bonus: Any competitor who vomits during an "up down" gets an automatic 2 point bonus if they successfully reach the endpoint by the time limit. However, that competitor is not allowed to compete in the next "up down."

The winner of the fartlekking session who has the most points at the end of the "up downs" is called The Fartlekker.

I think this could really catch on. It seems like it'd be a really good workout involving interval training, eccentric muscle contraction, and both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. The use of weight bonuses allows one to build strength beyond what they could carrying only themselves. The rugged terrain required makes this very outdoorsy, and it can be played in almost any weather condition, any time of year. In fact, rough weather makes it more intense.
Interval training like this is the best way to lower LDL levels, raise HDL levels, increase aerobic threshold while increasing anaerobic threshold, and is a great way to hang out with your friends.

See you on the up and up!


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