Although I shy away from using the term “fartlek” with my non-running peers because of its silly pronunciation (fart-leck), it is a word frequently on the brain during training. A fartlek, Swedish for “speed play,” is a training routine crucial for building endurance, speed and stamina.
How to run a fartlek
Just as the word suggests, a fartlek is run literally by playing with speed. It is an interval workout without the rigidness, accomplished by alternating between sprinting and recovery paces within varied distances. Many times when completing a fartlek, runners might choose an object in the distance to which they will sprint, then another object to which they will run at a normal pace. The magic of the fartlek is that these sprinting and recovery distances are totally up to the runner. More structured fartlek routines do exist however for those looking for more organized workouts.
When to run a fartlek
It is most effective to start incorporating 1-2 fartleks per week into your training routine once you have about a month’s worth of base training completed.
Why fartleks are so effective
Fartleks are massively helpful because they allow athletes to practice running fast. Although it seems obvious, in order to run faster, you need to practice running faster. These workouts require you to push your speed more than in a normal run. A fartlek also simulates a real race situation when bursts of speed sporadically occur. It is a way to practice navigating these bursts economically and practice staying quick afterwards.
To sum it up, adding fartlek workouts to your training routine can help amp up the speed without amping up the effort! Always remember to incorporate the proper warm ups and cool downs before and after fartlek-ing.