It was that time of the week for tempo training, that fast session to help keep your speed after all those slow endurance runs. I decided to head down to the local sports stadium to do the run on the track.
This time I was in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Being a communist country, the track was open and free to the general populous. Lots of other locals had a similar idea to me, and by 6 am, the track was already beginning to fill up with runners.
My plan was to do three 20 minute sessions, with five minutes rest in between. By the second 20 minute session the sun had started to rise, and by now you could spot me from a mile off, the sole white person on the track. One short Laotian guy saw me doing my laps and, as I went to pass him, he sped up to stay with me. For the rest of this session he ran alongside without speaking, silently enjoying his own little conjured-up race.
As I slowed down for my five minute break, I hoped he would sprint on ahead. “Damn”, I thought, as he slowed down with me, barely catching his breath before starting to speak in broken English. “So where do you come from? Who did you come here where? Where are you staying? What is your name?” Not wanting to be rude in case he was some government secret service agent, I decided it best to reply. “From France, with my Husband, in Bewley’s Hotel, I’m Patricia” was my succinct yet dishonest answer.
Thankfully, like all rest periods between fast sessions, my five minute recovery was soon up. I ran on. This time round he failed to join. Instead, he went and sat with his friend who was lounging on the track, watching all the female joggers pass him by.
He might have chosen the better option: tempo training is always far more interesting to watch than to do…