Anybody who has done serious, competitive track and field is going to laugh at my ignorance but I was more of a competitive wrestler and judoka in my puppy-state forming years and moved to more serious, competitive endurance sports later in life. I was talking to a good friend who was a convincing and obsessive Ironman runner earlier in his life, telling him that my speed progress on 10K had more or less stalled and I wasn’t really going to get to a faster speed at this later stage of my life. And he replied … Have you tried fart-lick? And I’m like “fart-what?” … “Fartlek, Phil, Fartlek” ….
What is a Fartlek Run?
The word “fartlek” comes from Swedish and means “slow play” or, more generally, “slow fast” – basically Fartlek is a type of run where you vary your speed throughout versus going at a steady pace. In other words, Fartlek workouts entail fast and intense running interspersed with periods of active jogging recovery. The periods of fast running shouldn’t be all-out sprints, but a good short run pace, above your current pace (or at least this is how I interpreted it and benefited from it) and the slower periods super slow enough that recovery happens fully.
Theoretically it’s a type of interval training but different because of the work-to-rest ratio: during a fartlek workout, basically you switch between fast and slow running but in fact you never stop running.
Why Fartlek training?
Well – to run fast, one needs to train fast … that’s how I got into 10K running, I was initially training for 5Ks and my idea that if I could do a 10K fast then 5Ks would be just a super breeze – but speed work is important to any runner’s training plan. This particular kind of speedwork matters because it teaches how to relax and recover without stopping, and to pick the pace back up again when needed. In other words, a fartlek run helps runners learn that they have more than one speed, and that they're also able to slow, without walking, to a pace where their heart rate can recover after a harder effort. So because in the end most runner tend to become dependent on their watches, a fartlek run teaches you to be adaptable and run based on how you feel rather than worrying about paces and time goals.
In summary: Fartlek runs will help boost endurance while also building speed, because they tax both the anaerobic and aerobic systems. By incorporating different types of runs into your training plan (fartlek, intervals, steady state), you can train multiple energy systems in your body, which can improve your performance on race day and make you fitter overall.
How to Do a Fartlek Running Workout
This is why I love Fartlek so much: a fartlek can be as hard or as easy of run as one need it to be. In other words, fartleks should be unstructured and this makes them an easy running interval workout to do on your own. I think it’s a really great prep workout for the running season in summer during the cold winter months. I love to fartlek on a treadmill – makes the treadmill workouts way less boring and frankly this is so effective it would be un-smart to not do it.
Simple Workout = Big Results
I tried fartlek. And in 2 weeks I am already at 1min/mile gains on a 10K. Who knew? Thank you Larry!
@philippemora > I come from the future. I work and I workout.
Always be kind and passionate. 🙏❤️💪🏋️♀️🔥🚀
I come from the future. I work and I workout. Always be kind and passionate.