Fartlek – Funny Name, Amazing Results

While many of the exercises I have focused on here are meant to increase the strength of an athlete, exercises designed around running are just as important.  After all, OCR does have an R in it for Race.  If you read the title and immediately thought of a foul odor, you aren’t alone.  The name is horrible… but the activity is intense.

First, the term Fartlek itself is a Swedish term and translates to “speed play”.  This training method incorporates continuous training and interval training.  While the activity may be broken down into those simple ideas, the exercise combines long distance running with periods of break-neck sprinting.  For beginners, this could be walking and jogging.  For more advanced runners, this could be a long distance run with well timed sprints mixed in.

Typical Fartlek training would last somewhere between 40-60 minutes.  While the idea is to be flexible, sprint when you want to for as long as you want to, mixing in some structure can quickly help you get to that next level.

Example 1:

Start running for a good 10 minutes to ensure that you are warmed up, run for 2 minutes as hard as you can, then run again for 2 minutes and 30 seconds at a normal pace.  At that point, you would start adding 30 seconds to each interval.  Next, go all out for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, then slow it down for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.  Pick up the pace again for 3 minutes, then easier for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.  Then 3 minutes and 30 seconds fast again, then easier for 2 minutes and thirty seconds… you get the idea.

Example 2:

Run to parts of a song.  When your favorite music starts to pick up the pace, you should too.  When the beat drops, drop it all and go all out.

Example 3:

One method, which I try to incorporate into my running, is a timing method.  I will set my timer to go off every 6 minutes and then again at 7 minutes.  This will let me know that I need to start sprinting at every 6 minutes for 1 minute.

Ultimately the decision on how you want to run the Fartlek is yours and that is the beauty behind it.  This is your workout and you are the one that needs to get the most out of it.  Find the right mix for you and keep pushing the limits.

About Joe DiFiglia

Fitness and sport enthusiast. Spartan Race Junky. I have been a martial artist since the age of 4 and addicted to anything challenging. Years of Martial Arts training provides the ability to keep going when my body really wants to quit.