THE DETAILS: Roughly translated, the word “fartlek” is Swedish for “speed play.” A fartlek workout is a fairly unstructured session where the athlete runs for periods of time (not distance) at a faster effort (not pace), and periods of time at a slower effort (not pace). Those periods of time can be set beforehand (ex: 2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy for 30 minutes) or you can go really old school and simply throw in surges throughout a run based on landmarks (ex: hard bursts from light pole to light pole or city block to city block) or based on terrain (ex: surge on every uphill).
AN EXAMPLE: Over the years we’ve done so many different types of fartleks that it would almost impossible, or at least way too long, to list them all. One of our staples, though, has been to simply go out on Lake Mary Rd. and knock out 6 miles worth of 2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy. It’s a great session because you get the pace change work that any fartlek provides, you get some work in at at least threshold pace and probably a little faster during the two-minute hard segments, and you get a good overall pace for 6 miles with the 1-minute easy segments being so short–and hopefully not too easy. Just to give you some other ideas though, here are some others:
1) 20 x 1min hard, 1min easy
2) 4 miles of 2min hard, 2min easy
3) 3min, 2min, 1min, 1min, 2min, 3min, 3min, 2min, 1min with 2 minute easy segments after the 3min hard segments and 1min easy segments after the 2min and 1min hard segments.
4) 8 miles with a 2min hard surge at the beginning of each mile (rest of the mile at normal easy run pace).
5) The Mona Fartlek – Made famous by Aussie star Steve Moneghetti. 2×90 seconds, 4×60 seconds, 4×30 seconds, 4×15 seconds with equal jog recovery after each hard segment.
HOW TO DO IT YOURSELF: Fartleks are for anyone, anytime, and anywhere!! They can be done early in a segment as a no-pressure way to build fitness without worrying about exact pace, they can be done as a ball buster session in the heart of a segment to work on handling pace change during races, or they can be done in the taper phase as a low-key tuneup type of session. Since the effort is up to you (on both the hard and easy portions), you can make a fartlek into anything you need it to be. Enjoy!!
Hope you enjoyed this edition of our “NAZ Workouts.” Stay tuned for another edition coming out next Wednesday!!