To fartlek or not to fartlek.

My next run day will be a 4 mile Fartlek. Never heard of it? The name is hilarious, in my opinion anyway, And when originally told I would have to complete it, I immaturely replied: “Come again? What?” And laughed. However, it is pretty important for endurance runners as it acts as an alternative to interval training. So despite the title, I will be Fartleking… lol…

Wikipedia describes it as “speed play” in Swedish. For training purposes it means blending continuous training with interval training. The training can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting.  Sessions should be at an intensity that causes the athlete to work anywhere from 60% – 80% of their MHR. As with every work out, you should have a warm up and cool down.

Here’s an example of the training outlined on wiki:

  • Warm up = easy running for 5-10 minutes
  • Steady, hard speed for 1.5 – 2.5 km
  • Recovery = rapid walking for 5 minutes
  • Start of speedwork = easy running interspersed with sprints of about 50 – 60 metres (repeat until tired)
  • Easy running with three or four “quick steps” (supposed to simulate suddenly speeding up to avoid being overtaken by another runner)
  • Full speed uphill for 175-200 metres
  • Fast pace for 1 minute

*This whole routine would be repeated until the total time prescribed on the training schedule has lapsed (or in my case, until you pass out.)

Here’s are a few more examples of Fartlek training from Runners World and Kick Runners:

Block Party: 
In your city, neighborhood, or office park, use blocks as your “track.” You can go around the block or do an out-and-back. Start at a slow pace for five to 10 steps, then gradually increase the pace for 20 to 50 steps, then run at race pace (but not all out) for one full block. Start with two or three fartlek segments and build to six. Walk for one or two minutes between each faster section.

Running Landmark: 
Pick a telephone pole, mailbox, stop sign, or anything up ahead and run to it. You can choose one item (all telephone poles, for example) or multiple landmarks to create varying lengths of speed segments. On each segment, gradually pick up the pace until you’re running fast but not all out. For the last 20 steps, hold the pace, but focus on relaxing your body and allowing momentum to take over. Walk or jog for half the distance of your repeat, then spot your next landmark and take off again. Continue for a total of 10 to 15 minutes, before running an easy five to 10 minutes to cool down.

Portsea Fartlek:

  • 10-15 minute light warm-up
  • a thorough stretching session
  • 3×3 minutes hard (@ 3,000m race effort) w/ 75 secs easy between each
  • 3 minutes easy
  • 4×30 seconds hard (@800m race effort) with 1 min easy between each

Watson Fartlek:

  • 3 minutes easy
  • 3×5 minutes hard (@5000m race effort) with 1 minute 45 seconds easy
  • 5-15 minute warm down with a thorough stretching session

I only have Fartlek sessions once a week, but I’ll likely give all of the above a try- why not, eh? Let me know if you do this type of training and share your techniques!

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