Fartlek Running
May 22, 2020

A great way to work on becoming a faster runner is Fartlek training. I’ve added Fartlek runs to my training over a year ago, so today I want to talk about what that has done for my training and how it can help you become a faster runner.

If you’re not familiar with Fartlek running I’ll explain real quick what it is. A Fartlek run is a sort of interval run. You do a short warm up run of about 10 minutes, then you pick a certain point on your path as a goal that you will run to, you increase your speed to about 5K speed and once you get to the goal you slow down your running, you don’t stop, you keep going at regular training pace, maybe a little bit slower if you need to, but this is when you recover. Again you pick a landmark or something up ahead that you’ll run to and from there you start to speed up again to another goal that you set. You repeat this 5 to 10 times and finish with a 10 minute cooling down run.

So that is Fartlek in a nutshell. So why do I like it and how does it help? Well Fartlek runs help you get faster by actually training to run small parts of your run faster than you otherwise would and it trains your recovery while you’re running at the same time. The distances you run change and so does the amount of sets that you run, so it different all time. It’s a nice change to your regular running and keeps you from getting bored of just doing long runs.

It’s helped me a lot with my speed and endurance. And the great thing about Fartlek is that you can notice improvement fairly quickly. After the second or third Fartlek run you can already notice you recover quicker or you can run a longer stretch. And that works very motivational and helps you to keep going. When you’re doing only long runs it can get to a point where you don’t really notice much improvement anymore, so it’s nice to add these runs and get a better feeling of how your training is helping you to improve.

I talk about motivation in my videos a lot and if there is one thing that is a great motivator for your training it’s to see improvement in your training. To see that what you’re doing is making you perform better. And if you are more motivated by your Fartlek runs it can also help you with the rest of your training. It can help you go into your long runs or strength training with more motivation, which in turn makes those workouts better as well.

So did Fartlek runs actually make me faster? Of course it’s hard to attribute improvement to a specific thing, cause I’m doing more than just Fartlek runs, but yeah, it did help me get faster. I can say for a fact that I notice the difference in my running and my training when I do Fartlek runs. And not just the fact that I run faster, but what I think I benefit from most for my longer races is the fact that it trains my recovery while running. A lot of times during a race I go out to fast at the start or there are runners in front of me that I want to get away from so I pass them by speeding up. Sometimes you just go to hard and you have to slow down, so being able to recover from that quicker while you still keep on running is something that really helps during your race.
Now don’t think you should just switch all your runs for Fartlek runs and just train that. Fartlek is not the quick fix to better running, so you should only train that. It is an intense workout and you should only do them once a week. It doesn’t replace your long runs, you still need to put in the distance in your training too and do your strength training. But it’s a great addition to your training, a great way to mix up your runs and get some variety in there.

The fun thing about Fartlek runs is that you kind of pick and choose what you do, you decide how long you’ll speed up, how long you’ll recover, how many reps you’ll do, how fast you’ll run. And all this can be different from the next time you do it. I think it’s a great way to train and even if you are not worried about becoming faster at your running, I still think Fartlek runs can bring a lot to your training. If only for the motivation it gives you by noticing the improvement in your running.

So are you already doing Fartlek runs or interval runs or are you planning to start adding them to your training? Until next time, get out there and run.

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