Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fartlek Workouts for Beginners

Fartlek-- Swedish for "speed play" is a great way to introduce speed workouts to your running regiment. 

The intent of Fartlek running is to alternate between moderate to hard efforts with bouts of easy running throughout.

We used Fartleks regularly when training for the Pike's Peak Ascent. Hill Fartleks looked a bit different, but at the core, the intent was the same-- to build stamina, endurance and to prepare your body for alternating pace and effort during a race. 

After a warm-up, you play with the speed by running at faster efforts for short periods of time followed by easy-effort running to recover. The key is to keep your easy pace to at least a jogging effort. 

You can run Fartleks anywhere-- on the track, treadmill or on your typical running route. The exact pace of your run doesn't matter so much as the effort. You want to feel like you are working hard during the hard intervals, and you want to run or jog slow enough during the easy intervals so that your body can recover. 

A great benefit of running Fartlek intervals is that it prepares your body {and mind} for the uneven pace of running during a race. Fartleks allow runners to work both the aerobic and anaerobic training systems while simulating the ebb and flow of racing. Variations in pace during a race can be caused my crowd, terrain, aid stations. It can be difficult and frustrating if you are unprepared for it.

Regularly implementing Fartleks into your routine keeps muscles, tendons and nerves used in running working at top capacity. Alternating the intensity of your workouts will also help you burn more calories than you would by running a steady pace.

Gosta Holmer, a Swedish coach, developed Fartlek in 1937 for the downtrodden Swedish cross country running teams that had been beaten throughout the 1920s. Holmer's plan used a faster-than-race pace and concentrated on both speed and endurance training.

Fartlek runs are completely customizable. Here are some suggestions on how to begin incorporating Farklets into your running program.

Time: These Fartleks will give you the most control. They are also very similar to regular running intervals. Again, the key is to continue to, at least, jog during the OFF portion.

. 1 minute ON, 2 minutes OFF
. 1 minute ON, 1 minute OFF

Fun: Choose your own measure of ON / OFF intervals. Using songs could cause you to have to run hard for longer than you want. Or the opposite, it could give you a very short break during the easy portion.

. 1 song ON, 2 songs OFF
. 1 song ON, 1 song OFF

Landmarks: Landmarks are another great measure of ON / OFF intervals. Especially if you are running in a location that has regular landmarks like a road with telephone poles or neighborhood with evenly spaced mailboxes.

. 2 telephone poles ON, 2 telephone poles OFF
. 5 mailboxes ON, 5 mailboxes OFF

"Reap the benefits of speed play with Fartlek #running. #runchat #holidaysweat @FitApproach"

Tweet me your favorite way to Fartlek!

Your turn! Do you implement Fartleks into your running routine? Do you prefer to use time or landmarks for your Fartleks?


This post is linked up with Jill for The Fit Dish, The Fit Foodie Mama for Wild Workout Wednesday, Running with SD Mom for Wednesday Giveaway Roundup, Jill for Fitness Friday, Fitful Focus for Fit & Fashionable Friday and The Fit Foodie Mama for Foodie Friday. Make sure to stop by and check them out!