Fartlek, a Swedish term for “speed play” is a form of interval training involving continuous activity with randomised short bursts of high intensity efforts. This creative, less structured form of training is a great way to mix up your run workouts and challenge your body to become faster over longer distances. Unlike intervals, where you stop or walk for recovery, Fartlek is continuous running with varying paces, blending endurance with speed. The randomised nature of Fartlek training is designed to continuously shock and stress the body systems, providing both physical and mental gains.
How Does Fartlek Training Work?
Fartlek training can be structured in a number of different ways and can be tailored toward individual training goals. Different combinations that can be programmed include:
- Fixed distance for the repetition
- Fixed time for the repetition
- Varying distance/time for the repetition
- Varying pace for both the repetition and recovery period
Fartlek sessions are usually 20 minutes or more in duration (including a warm up and cool down) and can be done almost anywhere.
What are the Benefits?
- Improves speed
- Improves endurance
- Helps to train the mind and strengthen willpower
- Improves race tactics if you are running competitively
- Provides flexibility – intensity can be adjusted depending on how you are feeling
- Provides variety and keeps training fun
- An efficient way to burn calories
- Can be structured to simulate various sports
Time Based Examples:
- 30 seconds hard, 1-minute easy. Repeat x10
- 75 seconds hard/150 seconds easy, 60 seconds hard/120 seconds easy. Repeat x4
- 3 minutes hard/1-minute easy. Repeat x6
- 30 seconds hard/90 seconds easy. Repeat with 15 second decreases in recovery jog e.g. 30-90, 30-75, 30-60, 30-45, 30-30, 30-15. Repeat x3
- 30 seconds hard/90 seconds easy, 60 seconds moderate/60 seconds easy, 90 seconds hard/30 seconds easy. Repeat x4
Random/Distance Based Examples:
- Run uphill hard, downhill easy
- Run hard to a certain landmark (e.g. a lamp post, tree or mailbox) and run easy to the next landmark
- 300m hard/100m easy. Repeat x10
If you would like to learn more about different types of cardiovascular training methods and how to program activity for aerobic fitness gains, check out our Cert III & IV in Fitness and become a qualified Personal Trainer!