Fartlek workouts are one of the simplest aerobic workouts and can be used at the start of a block of training, with both young athletes and older athletes.
Fartlek is a Swedish term that means “speed-play.” You simply oscillate between two or more paces in your run. The simplest fartleks should be done in 5-minute blocks. So you can do 2 minutes “on” – a pace that is challenging, but one you could do for 15-20 minutes. Then do 3 minutes “steady” – a pace that is slower than the “on” pace, but faster than your easy run pace. That is a solid 5 minutes of running. Do 4 sets and you have 20 minutes of running; do 8 sets and you have 40 minutes of running. So you can complete a 10-minute warm-up and a 10-minute cool-down, then do 4-8 sets in the middle, giving you 40-60 minutes of running. Simple.
The common mistake with fartlek workouts is to go too fast during the on and too slow on the steady. So, run VERY easy during the first on segment, but keep the steady at an honest pace. Again, the on portions should be at a pace you can do for 15-20 minutes, so running just 2 minutes at this pace is not that challenging.
This workout is the antithesis of 10 x 400m with 60 seconds of walk/jog. In that workout you go super hard, then walk/jog; in this workout you run a challenging, but not hard pace during the on portion, then make the steady portion fast enough that the 5-minute block is challenging, but highly doable. [Read more…]