The fartlek session

Published 20th July 2021 by mymo

Here at mymo, we all have a mix of experience, background and favourite parts of running and racing. Running can be so much more than pounding the pavements, running around a track or racing a big city marathon. One of our top sessions is the Fartlek workout, and we are going to tell you why it’s great and more importantly, how to do it well. 

What is fartlek?

Fartlek is a term roughly translated as “Speed Play” and if that sounds like fun to you, it is! Fartlek is a great form of versatile (fun!) training that can improve your fitness on the road, trail and track depending on how you mix it up. Broadly speaking, fartlek running includes a variety of fast and slow intervals as well as rest periods that should give you full-on freedom and add range and variety to your running. It’s not as structured as many interval workouts you might know or complete regularly and having the freedom and ownership of your running can be a great thing.

Why should I do it?

Any form of interval training is good for you. Interval sessions (repeated effort and rest workouts) are great at pushing you out of your comfort zone, raising the heart rate and generally building endurance. Fartlek is a great boredom buster and a super way of resetting your running if you feel stuck in a rut. Doing just one fartlek session a few times a month can mix things up and improve your fitness. 

How to Fartlek

If the idea of fartlek running is completely new to you, you might want to start with some time-structured fartlek running, such as set time intervals like two minutes of fast running with undefined recovery jogging in between (run until you feel ready to ‘go’ again!). As you get used to the freedom of fartlek, you might want to try landmark intervals eg, running hard between lamp posts, streets, blocks, even wheelie bins! Try not to get hung up on pace as it shows on your watch and instead listen in to your effort, how hard it feels and not what the stats are telling you. 

Farltek can be great fun when you run in a pair or a group as you can take turns in deciding when and how long you run the efforts, and use recoveries to regroup. 

Fartlek is also brilliant to do if you are trail and off road running as it can lend itself to changes in terrain - you might want to run harder on uphills and recover downhill, or save your efforts for flat sections. 

Make it yours, and enjoy it.

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