Fartlek: It’s More Than a T-shirt


John Stanton Training Tips

We have all seen the t-shirt and chuckled. Fartlek training means getting tired without feeling tired. The runs are intense but different, allowing for variations of speed in an unstructured but demanding run.

Fartlek runs introduce rhythm and power to your training runs and is a great substitute for runners who want to avoid the track. Fartlek runs are stressful and intense, as they combine speed and hills into one workout. As an athlete, you really must focus on controlling the difficulty of the workout to avoid injury. Be sure to include adequate rest between each speed play surge.

Try to include a combination of hills and flats in your fartlek runs. Park trails often offer the right mixture. If you are forced to a road, pick a landmark like a parked car, a light post or a tree, and run your high-intensity burst until you reach your focus point. In the park or on the road, including a mixture of hard surges followed by easy recovery runs. Mix up the surges with varying distances—sometimes 100m, sometimes 400m or 800m. You can also run hard surges of 1-5 minutes followed by easy running for 2-3 minutes. Go hard up hills and easy on the way down. It’s stressful on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, but playful.

Fartlek runs are fast and continuous with pickups to simulate racing conditions, where you pick up the pace and pass someone. These runs give you the confidence to speed up in a race, even when you are already fatigued from running hard and fast.


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