Other than being an extremely fun word to say Fartlek training has been around for years. The word “Fartlek” is Swedish for speed play. Farleking became popularized by Swedish coach, Gosta Holmer. He was hoping this technique would lead his Swedish Cross Country Team to victory over rival Paavo Nurmi and Finnish Cross Country Team. He realized pushing his athlete harder than race pace impact his team positively.
Fartlek Training benefits both newbie runners to the elite competitors. I started Fartlek training without really knowing it, when I was in high school cross country. Before a meet we used to do this group training runs which involved the leader of a line of girls setting a pace and started off asking a question like “ What your favorite ice cream flavor?” Then the person in the back of the line would sprint to the beginning of the line and shout there favorite ice cream flavor. The speed play aspect would come into play from the back of the pack speeding up to the front. These would be some of my favorite days in high school cross country training and it was really fun to mix things up.
I find Fartlek training to be very rewarding for those who are feeling mentally broken down by running. A great way to introduce in some speed work. Great for teaching the body what different paces feel like to your body both an aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Notice how your breathing quickens from speeding up- anaerobic effect. Note how long it takes for your body to recover- aerobic effect- endurance. Ready to give Fartlek running a try?
If you a beginner I would maybe start with a ten minute warm up either do dynamic stretching or run/ walk at a slower pace. Then fartlek for 10 minutes, get playful and creative. Spend about 10 minutes cooling down and stretching/ foam rolling. Back off on your fartleking if you start to notice injury otherwise. Increase your fartleking time as you become more comfortable. Make small jumps in fartleking by increasing 2 minutes per session. I would recommending adding this into your train every 4-10 days based on your current running history and goals.
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Do you currently fartlek?
If so drop me your favorite method below in the comments section.