Fartlek: What Is It And How Do You Do It?

Fartlek - What Is It And How Do You Do It
When it comes to improving your running speed, Fartlek training is the way to go. Granted, this might be a term that is unfamiliar to you – and if it is, that’s okay! The word Fartlek is Swedish, and means “speed” (fart) and “play” (lek). Developed by a track and field superstar back in the 1930’s, Fartlek training is essentially speed training for those that run for longer distances.

What Is Fartlek Training

You can set aside your timers and smartwatches for this type of training. Whether you’re on a treadmill, out on a trail, or on the road, Fartlek training is simply the ability to alternate between bursts of speed and then times of recovery. Granted, monitoring your heart rate zones during this time period can be motivating for some – but isn’t necessary in the long run for this type of training.

With Fartlek training, how far or long your bursts of speed last are essentially determined by how you’re feeling that day, the weather, and the conditions of your running location (i.e. the surges might be shorter, if you’re running in a hilly area). Obviously, this means that how much effort you exert during each burst is going to vary, and that’s okay! Fartlek training allows your body to train and adapt to many different types of running conditions, hills, surfaces, and speeds, and therefore improving your endurance level and running pace.

Fartlek Training For Beginners

Fartlek training is perfect for those who are just starting out with their journey on the road – or treadmill! With all of the technology on the market today to help you improve your speed and training, it can be a bit intimidating to not use all of that stuff, or, it can be liberating! That’s why Fartlek training has its benefits to those who are brand new to running – you don’t need any of the fancy running technology that’s available in order to improve your speed as well as your overall endurance.

As a beginner runner, it can certainly be a daunting task to learn how to improve your running abilities, especially if this is your first time with this type of exercise. Between finding the right shoes for your stride, making sure you’ve got comfy clothes, and fitting in time in your busy schedule, the last thing on your mind is probably dialing in your training for specific time or speed goals. That’s where Fartlek training comes into play. Simply put, there is much less structure to this type of training than most others – but, it also comes with a high reward of effectivity.

There are no set paces, distances, or time frames when doing Fartlek training, which can take a major load off of your mind when you just want to get accustomed to hitting the pavement. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Fartlek training!

Benefits Of Fartlek Training

Because you will end up training in several different conditions with Fartlek, there ends up being multiple benefits to both the body and mind. For one, you’re improving your endurance, more so than if you were doing one single speed low incline run. Due to the fact that your heart rate is going to vary – especially on the surges when you’re feeling good, and you’re pushing yourself hard. Another benefit is that you can reduce your risk of injury. This is because between running up and down hills, across different terrains, and varying your speeds, you’re working muscles in different ways, and therefore improving strength and flexibility. Third, this type of training can be fun! You’re not bound to one specific program or timeframe, and you can play around with speed – which can come in handy at the end of a 5k or 10k when you’re nearing the finish line!

Here’s A Fartlek Workout For Beginners

Now that you know what fartlek training is, let’s look at an easy workout that you can incorporate into your running routine!

Warmup: 5-10 minutes of walking/light jog

Fartlek: 8-10 surges (aiming for approximately 85% of your all-out effort) then falling back to a resting jog in between each one.

Cooldown: 5-10 minutes at a comfortable walking pace, getting your heart rate back down

There are many different ways that you can utilize Fartlek training – just find one that works for you, your schedule, and your running goals!

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