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Fartlek Training

Updated on February 19, 2016
Jaynie2000 profile image

Jaynie is a seasoned marathoner, triathlete and soccer player with an interest in fitness and nutrition.

Make Running Fun with Fartlek Training

It may sound like an obnoxious bodily function, but fartlek is actually a Swedish word meaning speed play. Fartlek is a fun way to train because it allows you to incorporate greater speed at varying intervals. You can run as fast as you like for as long or short as you like and you can recover after a fartlek for as long as you need to. By incorporating fartleks into your running regimen you are actually working toward building overall stamina, which makes long distance running easier. Fartleks are also a good way for athletes to reintroduce themselves to running after they’ve been sidelined by injuries.

If you’ve never tried fartlek training, begin by adding about a half dozen fartlek drills into your normal 30 minute run. Each week you can add one or two additional fartleks or add to the duration of your current fartleks. After you’ve done this for a month, change your fartlek routine until you are running one minute hard and two minutes easy for a total of 21 minutes.

You may also try running around a track, taking the first lap at 5k speed and the next lap slightly slower than 5k speed (maybe 1 to 1.5 minutes slower). This pace does not allow your body to completely recovery between 5k laps, forcing it to make the adjustment to a quicker recovery. This will serve you well following more challenging training sessions and after racing.

More seasoned runners have greater fartlek endurance and should use it to their advantage. Training for seasoned runners should include runs that incorporate a 5 minute fartlek followed by 4 minutes of recovery. This will be followed by a 4 minute fartlek with a 3 minute recovery. Then a 3 minute fartlek followed by a two minute recovery and so on. Veteran racers may also start with 1 minute fast followed by 1 minute easy. Progress to 2 minutes fast and 2 minutes easy and on up until you reach 5 minutes fast. Then run 4 minutes easy followed by 4 minutes fast and repeat the fartleks in descending order.

Fartlek training does not need to be done with every run. In fact, beginning runners only need to incorporate one fartlek session per week for 15 to 30 minutes. Intermediate runners need only 1 to 2 sessions weekly for 30 to 45 minutes and seasoned runners need only 1 to 2 fartlek drills per week during the off season for 45 to 60 minutes.

Make your runs count and have fun doing it with fartlek training!


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    • Jaynie2000 profile image

      Jaynie2000 7 years ago

      Ha! Thanks, Lilly. It is a fun and productive way to mix up your running routine.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Darn, I thought you came up with an ingenious way to lose weight! :0) Really, thank you for educating me about this