Since running the Brighton Marathon last year I’ve shied away from my running training, as some of you might be aware running that kind of distance the pain & aching that is involved before, during & definitely after tends to put you off doing anymore running for a while! One thing though that did crop in conversations with fellow runners is Fartlek training. Some people swore by, others – myself included seemed a little clueless about it!
So, what is Fartlek Training?
Fartlek, is a form of interval or speed training that can be effective in improving your speed and endurance – and comes from the Swedish term meaning ‘speed play’. Fartlek training involves varying your pace throughout your run, alternating between fast & slow paces. Unlike other training methods Fartlek is unstructured in that it tends not to involve specific defined segments of time or speed.
How do you do it?
Start your run as normal; include a short warm up as needed.
After a 5-10 minutes at your normal running pace (able to hold a conversation) start running at harder faster pace, almost a sprint but not quite. If running outdoors try and pick a landmark to run to (lamp post, road sign, rubbish bin etc. …) You shouldn’t run any longer than 30-45 seconds or roughly 200 metres at this pace.
Once you’ve hit that landmark, distance or time, drop back to your normal running pace (or just below normal running pace) & recover. Allow yourself 3-5 minutes to recover & return to normal running pace. Once you have done this, pick a new landmark and repeat. Keep doing this for the duration of the training period (30-50 minutes max).
Why do it?
It’s perfect for testing your strength & endurance and is great for improving your speed running & race times. It increases your cardio capacity & recovery times by placing a little more stress on the body than conventional paced timed running.
It also provides lots of flexibility within the workout so you can adjust it to your chosen level of fitness or goal: Low intensity for tapering or after race recovery running, high as part of pre-race training.