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TOPIC: Fartleks - speedwork 101 for new runners

 
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September 30, 2011 1:32 PM
Fartlek is Swedish for speed play. Quite simply it is a great way for new runners to start incorporating speedwork into their training. The best part about fartleks is that they are totally free form.

Once you are warmed up and running along at an easy pace, it might look something like this:

run full blast to the stop sign on the corner
easy pace to the big tree
medium pace to the blue truck down the street
easy pace to the street light
full blast to the gas station

You get the idea. No set time or distance at any given pace, just play it by ear and you mix up your paces. You can alternate pace by houses, telephone poles, trees or anything. You can probably do the same thing on a dreadmill, just by randomly messing with the speed a bit.

By way of contrast, intervals (in terms of running training) are usually very specific as to the distance, number of repeats and rest or jogs between intervals. You might run 7 x 1/2 mile repeats w/ 90 second jogs in between or 3 x 1 mile repeats with 2:00 jogs (or one lap) in between.

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Edited by arc918 On September 30, 2011 1:32 PM
September 30, 2011 1:37 PM
Heh. Fart.
September 30, 2011 1:37 PM
interesting
  8851143
September 30, 2011 3:52 PM
give it a try!
September 30, 2011 3:54 PM
Interesting!
  6516604
September 30, 2011 6:32 PM
A lot of my trail runs turn into quasi-fartleks just by default. Fast downhills or smooth parts of the trail. Hard up hills, easy parts to recover.
September 30, 2011 6:53 PM
bumpin it to reference it later :)
October 3, 2011 2:24 AM
Bump
October 4, 2011 10:47 AM
fartleks baby!
June 14, 2012 2:23 PM
bumping this old thread based on another thread this morning
June 14, 2012 2:26 PM
I've doing this on my shorter runs because I have no interest in doing interval/sprint work. I have to say, it's been working great for me... I've gone from 11:30-12:00 min/mile, down to about a 10:30 min/mile. (Yes, I'm a slow runner.... but I am improving!).
  9285646
June 14, 2012 3:08 PM
QUOTE:

I've doing this on my shorter runs because I have no interest in doing interval/sprint work. I have to say, it's been working great for me... I've gone from 11:30-12:00 min/mile, down to about a 10:30 min/mile. (Yes, I'm a slow runner.... but I am improving!).


I steered clear of structured speedwork for a quite a while, as I assumed it would make running unfun. Turns out I have a love hate relationship with intervals. As painful as they are, it is very satisfying when you nail a workout.
June 14, 2012 3:22 PM
QUOTE:

A lot of my trail runs turn into quasi-fartleks just by default. Fast downhills or smooth parts of the trail. Hard up hills, easy parts to recover.


Ditto - I often run around a nearby lake, and what's under foot varies a lot - there are stretches with lots of tree roots waiting to trip me up if I don't walk, hilly areas in an old stream bed with loose gravel, hard packed earth, grass, pavement, etc. etc. So I'm pretty much forced to mix things up without having to think about it much.
August 22, 2012 2:53 PM
bump
  636335
September 4, 2012 8:07 AM
Starting to study this for later after B210K. Complete newb to this kind of thing. Any learning I can do will be very beneficial. This thread looks like a good start.
  19507497
April 8, 2013 7:36 AM
I reaize this is an old post, but it's worth bumping.

I started running this year and completed my first 5k March 23rd at a slow and steady pace of 31 minutes. When doing the couch25k app I struggled some days with really, really wanting to RUN but knowing that I would wear myself out and have a tough time completing the full distance without stopping to walk. This week, I decided on a whim to complete a 10K in May because it supports DUI victims (and I am a 10 year survivor of being hit by a dui driver). I'm okay with not running the whole 10K but I am preparing to do my best.

My friend recommended fartlek to help me get ready and I tried it out yesterday. Have to say it was the most fun I've had running since I was a kid. Being able to let go and just RUN felt like a great victory and I stopped beating myself up for needing to go at a slower pace to recover. Plus I didn't have to rely on anything except my own self-imposed goals (just make it to that stop sign, just make it to the top of the hill, etc.) Look forward to seeing the improvements!
October 30, 2013 1:37 PM
Its so much fun running full blast even if its only for a short little burst its nice to see what these old legs can do! laugh
  26382406
October 30, 2013 1:50 PM
I usually do a fartlek once a week for twice as long as my short runs. I also used fartleks on a recent weekend when I ran back to back trail half marathons as well. It pretty fun.
October 30, 2013 2:04 PM
Nice to see this old thread getting some action, lots of new runners could benefit from this.
Edited by arc918 On October 30, 2013 2:25 PM
October 30, 2013 2:08 PM
ahh fartleks! Our hippie, fun loving coach had us do these when I was on the track team in hs. They really work. Good times smile
October 30, 2013 2:12 PM
I am not so methodical. But I have always had hills that I sprinted and I have always finished off every run with a sprint.
October 30, 2013 2:35 PM
QUOTE:

I am not so methodical. But I have always had hills that I sprinted and I have always finished off every run with a sprint.


Nothing to be methodical about, the only goal is deliberate pace changes without any specific times or distances.
October 30, 2013 3:00 PM
QUOTE:

Fartlek is Swedish for speed play. Quite simply it is a great way for new runners to start incorporating speedwork into their training. The best part about fartleks is that they are totally free form.

Once you are warmed up and running along at an easy pace, it might look something like this:

run full blast to the stop sign on the corner
easy pace to the big tree
medium pace to the blue truck down the street
easy pace to the street light
full blast to the gas station

You get the idea. No set time or distance at any given pace, just play it by ear and you mix up your paces. You can alternate pace by houses, telephone poles, trees or anything. You can probably do the same thing on a dreadmill, just by randomly messing with the speed a bit.

By way of contrast, intervals (in terms of running training) are usually very specific as to the distance, number of repeats and rest or jogs between intervals. You might run 7 x 1/2 mile repeats w/ 90 second jogs in between or 3 x 1 mile repeats with 2:00 jogs (or one lap) in between.



Nice simple explanation. I've been trying to turn the tide of the ignorance that intervals and fartlek are the same thing for a long time now. The military is especially bad about it.

One subtle distinction for new runners engaging in this is:

Any pace increase that changes your stride cadence is a good fartlek session. Once you get used to it, 'All out to that mailbox' is good. For now, 'faster to the mailbox is plenty.'

Don't over do it. Fartlek should be fun. After all it is Swedish for 'Speed PLAY'

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