Different types of Training?

You’ve come across, or heard of, terms like “interval run” or “tempo workout.” Fartleks. And may have been left scratching your head. Well here’s an attempt to clarify somethings.


Intervals are short, intense efforts followed by equal or slightly longer recovery time. For example, after a warmup, run two minutes at a hard effort, followed by two to three minutes of easy jogging or walking to catch your breath. The interval should be performed at an effort in which you’re in the red (think: reaching hard for air, unable to hold a conversation, and counting the seconds until you can stop). It should be a controlled, fast effort followed by a very easy jog. The secret is in the recovery. Use your patience and discipline, while you’re running easy, to allow you to run the next interval strong. And to finishing the entire workout fatigued but not completely spent. Just like rest, your body adapts and gets stronger in the recovery mode.

Benefits of Intervals: Improved running form and economy, endurance, mind-body coordination, motivation, and fat-burning.

Tempo Runs

Tempos, also known as threshold runs, are like a cream biscuit [You choose: bourbon, custard cream etc.! ]. The warmup and cooldown as the biscuit, and a run at an effort at—or slightly above—your anaerobic threshold (the marker in which your body shifts to using more glycogen for energy) as the filling. This is the effort level just outside your comfort zone—you can hear your breathing, but you’re not gasping for air. If you can talk easily, you’re not in the tempo zone, and if you can’t talk at all, you’re above the zone. It should be at an effort somewhere in the middle – a “comfortably hard” effort that allows you to talk in broken words and hold that effort for at least 20 minutes. Pace is not really an effective means for running a tempo workout, as there are many variables that can affect pace including heat, wind, fatigue, and terrain. More on Tempo runs next week.

Benefits of Tempo Runs: Increased lactate threshold to run faster at easier effort levels. Improves focus, race simulation, and mental strength.

Fartlek Runs

As mentioned last week.

Fartlek is the Swedish for “speed play,” and that is exactly what this run is all about. Unlike tempo and interval work, fartlek is unstructured and alternates between moderate to hard efforts with easy efforts throughout. After a warmup, you play with speed by running at faster efforts for short periods of time (to that tree, to the sign) followed by easy-effort running to recover. It’s fun in a group setting as you can alternate the leader and mix up the pace and time. And in doing so, you reap the mental benefits of being pushed by your buddies through an unpredictable workout. If you’re running solo, you can use it as a playful way to pass the time by targeting random markers as the finish line for the hard efforts. The goal is to keep it free-flowing so you’re untethered to the watch or a plan, and to run at harder efforts but not a specific pace.

Benefits of Fartlek: Stress-free workout that improves mind-body awareness, mental strength, and stamina.

So no excuses regarding your fitness, If you have been doing the core exercises and stretches, Rebecca’s classes or other equivalent training sessions and hill running. Adding these to your training regime will mean we will have a large number of PBs and SBs from you runners on your return to racing.

And there will be no coughing and spluttering like a seasoned smokers at the end of your first club reps! Well onward and upwards we go.

Take care

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