What The Fartlek!? Ep #1

Unsure about the difference between a Taper and progression run? Your LTP from your HR max?

Never fear!

In this series I will teach you all the posh lingo fast Harry down the park uses and next time you see him you can amaze him with your knowledge of vo2 max! (or push him in the bushes,the choice is yours!).

#1 Fartlek

This wasn’t my original choice for the first chapter but then I realised,if you don’t know what a Fartlek is you may think I have had an accident on the settee and my cool title won’t wow you in the way intended πŸ˜‰


Fartlek ~ A Swedish word meaning “speed play”. It is basically a longer run with some intervals of speed thrown in.If you are coached by me then you will already know these are amongst my fave sessions and dish them out often!

Unlike an interval session however,where you may stop or walk for recovery, Fartlek is a continuous session,in doing so it gives you a double whammy of training benefits,improving both your endurance AND speed! Winner winner chicken (or tofu) dinner!

The only limit to a Fartlek session is your imagination.

Done usually on roads or trail,simply pick a point in the distance, a lampost for example and pick up the pace until you reach it,ease back into your steady running pace for a while and then pick something else to race towards. The duration of the interval segments is also up to you,30 seconds,50 metres, one minute, 18 miles (ok maybe not the last one but you get what I mean !). Aim for 7/8 efforts on a 30 min Fartlek session!

Structured Fartlek

If you are scared of change,lack imagination or are doing your Fartlek on a treadmill (where I hope that there are no lampposts!) You can use time to dictate the faster running eg:

  • 10 mins easy running to warm up
  • 5 x 2 mins at 5k effort with 3 mins steady running between efforts
  • 10 mins easy running cool down

The above is a very basic example,get outside and experiment!

Another reason I love Fartlek is for racecraft.

I am sure if you have ever ran a race, no matter what level,then you will know that you don’t run the same pace all the way round…..

  • Passing the runner just in front?
  • surging down that hill?
  • sprinting for the line?

Fartlek Baby!!


Finally and I think probably the most important part of Fartlek training…….


It sounds rude and we all giggle every time we say it πŸ˜‰

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