Running Fartleks – A Primer

It sounds like an annoying body function, but in actuality, fartlek is from Swedish, and it means “speed play”. Running fartleks is an enjoyable way to exercise because it will allow you to add in greater speed at chosen times. You could sprint as quickly as you like for as long as you like, and then proceed to enter a recovering period for as long as you see fit. Adding fartleks into your routine will lead you directly towards stamina building, which can make running longer distances seem like a piece of cake. Running fartleks is also a good way for recovering athletes to get reacquainted with exercise after an injury.

If you are new to fartlek training, start by adding a handful of fartlek drills into your usual routine. Every subsequent week, try to add an additional fartlek or two to the fartlek session that you have already incorporated into your routine. After a month or so of doing this, alter your running fartleks routine until you are at a point where you are running at a ratio of two easy minutes for each hard minute for a total of at least 20 minutes. You could also attempt running fartleks around a track, with each lap being at a different speed (adjusting at least 2mph each lap).

Working at this pace doesn’t allow your body to recover after a faster lap, and will lead to quicker recovery time and better cardio conditioning. This ultimately works great for you when it comes to a more difficult training routine, or after you have run a race.

More seasoned runners who have built up greater overall endurance can use fartleks for their benefit. The fartlek method for more experienced runners should contain runs of a six minute fartlek followed by a five minute period of recovery. That would in turn be followed up with a five minute fartlek period followed by a four minute session of recovering.

Then do a four minute fartlek session into a three minute recovery session. I think you see where this is heading, just run it all the way down. Those who are experts in running fartleks will begin with one fast minute followed by an easy minute, and then proceed on to two fast minutes and two easy minutes. They would do this all the way up to five minutes. Then they would do the entire progression the exact same way, except in descending order.

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