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Speed play - slowing down to go faster

Posted by emeade on December 9, 2004 at 8:35 AM PST

In my last entry, Fartlek - Increasing your Sustainable Pace, I introduced fartleking as a metaphor to increase sustainable pace. I then went on to talk about some of the horrid things we let business do to us in the name of going faster and ended with a personal, touching story to illustrate the importance of Sustainable Pace.

John D. Mitchell took issue with my metaphor, in Rhythms in Software Development saying that rhythm was more appropriate.

Speed Training for Software Developers squarely hit the mark I was aiming for with:

The bigger question in my mind involves mature development teams. Will occasional speed workouts, whether on from deadline pressure on live jobs or on contrived exercises in the studio, help a team perform faster the next time they face time pressure?

Which takes me back to the second thing that business forgets about when it increases the pace. But to start at the beginning, I have always understood fartlek to be an advanced exercise, which means you already have your long distance sustainable pace. You know what it is and you know if you are at it or not. I'm not sure you can have a sustainable pace without rhythm, maybe XP's time boxing just makes me feel it that way.

Like much of XP, for speed play to be effective it has to be voluntary. Can you imagine a forced fartlek? Forced fartlek, now that smells like a business process.

So you pick your target and fartlek.

Then, you recover, back to that good ol' I can go like this forever sustainable pace.

One more time... you must start from a sustainable pace, if your not having fun, if the thought of speed-play is frightening or stresses you out, don't do it, your not ready yet, your first step is to find your sustainable pace.

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