You know how I like Fartlek. It challenges the body to adapt to various speeds, conditioning you to become faster over longer distances. Usually it targets one or two paces, and a basic long run is done at a single, steady pace. Unlike intervals, where you stop or walk for recovery, Fartlek is continuous running. Fartlek running involves varying your pace throughout your workout.
While top speed might not match intervals, your overall average heart rate (HR) should be higher for a fartlek workout than for intervals, because the jogging recovery also means HR does not drop as low during the recovery portions. It is great for a variety of fitness levels and can be customized according to personal preference and current training situation
Fartlek can be structured, though classic fartlek is based on feel and inspiration. “Run hard up the hill to the crest, jog to cross walk, accelerate the short downhill, jog to the intersection, run quickly around the block” versus “run 6-5-4-3-2 minutes faster with 2 minutes jogging recovery,” is an example of a structured fartlek.
Beyond physical benefits, fartlek also trains the mind, strengthening willpower, sustaining and repeating efforts when you feel like stopping.
We can all probably relate to a race situation when the mind can overwhelm us, questioning whether we can maintain the pace or respond to an opponent’s attack. The more training sessions we do that incorporate this speed variation, the more resistant we become to giving up mentally mid-race. The body can usually go much longer and faster than the mind would have it believe it can.
Here’s 4 ideas to work with and adjust if necessary. You should try and include a fartlek training session once every 2 weeks.
During your longest run of the week, pick up your pace for 1:00 minute every 6 to 8 minutes. This is not drastically faster—perhaps 15 to 20 seconds per mile faster than your normal long-run pace. If you have a hard time returning to “normal” long-run rhythm, then you are running the surges too quickly.
- After a 12 minute warm-up jog, plus a few drills and strides
- Build for 3 minutes as moderate, moderate-hard, hard each for 1 minute
- 2 minutes jog
- 7 minutes moderate-hard
- 3 minutes jog
- 3 minutes hard
- 5 minutes jog
- Cool down or repeat
After 10 minutes of warm-up jogging pick a landmark in the distance—this can be a telephone pole, mailbox, a tree, a building, etc, and run to it at a faster pace. Once you have reached it, slow down and recover with your normal running pace for as long as you need (just don’t fully stop), then find a new landmark and speed it up again. Keep in mind that there are no rules here, so run on feel as you go along.
After a 5-10 minute warmup.
- Increase your speed for one minute, then drop back to normal speed for one minute.
- Next increase your speed from one minute to 90 seconds, then take it down again to normal.
- Repeat the cycle for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Perform a final 2-minute surge at maximum speed before wrapping up your workout with a 5-minute cool down, jogging at slow pace and bringing your heart rate down.
It’s Friday – POETs day. Where are your Poems for poetry week – next week.?
And now for something different – for your grey cells. It’s a little different to the last one I set to you all last time.
What is the one (English) word that is always spelt incorrectly? Answer Monday.