Fartlek Training

The past few weeks have been very busy for me. So much so that I was not able to get a long run in the past 2 weeks. (Literally, I spent 30 hrs studying in a 48 hour period last weekend and thus why I only posted once last week.) Luckily, research and general physical activity guidelines set by governmental agencies indicate that by simply increasing the intensity of a workout you can decrease the time you spend doing it. Thus, I have turned to fartlek training runs to help me get in quick workouts since time is of the essence right now!

Have no idea what a fartlek is? Here is the quick breakdown. It is Swedish for “speed play” … well that is what Wikipedia told me anyway…so it must be true 🙂 . Essentially, fartlex training consists of running (or biking, swimming, rowing, walking, ice skating, whatever it is that you do) at various speeds/intensities throughout the workout. Anyone who played sports growing up has probably done some form of fartlex training before since this type of activity mimics the stop and go nature of team sports very well.

There is no one, set, or correct fartlek regimen, so you can pretty much make one up as you wish. Here is one of my favorites that I recently did.

  1. Warm-up/stetch: 2-5 minutes
  2. Walk: 30 seconds
  3. Run at your 1 mile pace*: 1 minute and 30 seconds
  4. Sprint: 1 minute
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 five more times (a total of 18 minutes)
  6. Cool Down Jog: 2 minutes and stretch*

*What I mean by 1 mile pace is that you should be running at a speed that would only allow you to sustain it for 1 mile. If you have not run a mile full out as fast you can, then just run this part of the interval at a clip that makes you breath hard and is uncomfortable, but that is not a full out effort.

In less than 30 minutes you will have gotten a good workout in, including warming up and cooling down…Can’t beat that! If you are new to this type of training, it may be best to start with less cycles (i.e. – only go for a total of 12 of 15 minutes). If this seems to easy you can always increase how many cycles you do OR try to pick up your pace because it may be that you are not pushing yourself enough on the run and sprint portions!

Another benefit to this type of training is that it keeps workouts interesting since sometimes the monotony of a long and slow run/ride/etc can become boring!

Do you incorporate fartlek training in to your cardio sessions? If so, what is your favorite interval regimen consist of?


6 thoughts on “Fartlek Training

  1. Tiff says:

    I haven’t exactly done fartlek training, but I have done speed work, hills, and striders to improve my pace. Maybe this will be a good addition to the mix!

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