Fartlek Isn’t Just A Funny Word

I needed to run today:

  • to clear my body of the remnants of a super-strong cough medicine
  • to raise my metabolism sufficiently to get rid of my illness
  • to just throw myself back into running after the cold

To accomplish all this, I decided to do some speedwork a.k.a. FARTLEKS.

For those outside the running community, Fartlek is a funny word that brings waves of laughter and memories of being 8 years old when jokes about body functions are the most hilarious thing ever. Because let’s face it, the first syllable in Fartlek is too much of a coincidence to not inspire jokes.

But seriously, “Fartlek” is one of those foreign words (this one is Swedish) that runners use to describe speed interval training.

This was my Fartlek plan:

15 minutes easy running to warm up

6 reps of 1 minute moderate running followed by 1 minute of walking

6 reps of 1 minute fast running followed by 1 minute of walking

5 minutes running to cool down

That’s a 44 minute total run.

Speed running is important in race training. It helps you get faster, it trains your body to make more efficient use of energy, to push more, to get stronger. As with any other exercise, if you constantly do the same things, your results will reach a plateau. Adding speedwork lets you push harder for short periods so you’re not huffing and puffing when you’re done.

I decided to do my Fartleks in Morningside Park because unlike the Central Park loop, the terrain is mostly very flat, and I only had to watch out for the ducks that waddle up from the pond to leave little surprises, and the kids in the middle of the park playing and occasionally lobbing balls in my direction. Guess that’s par for the course.

This was my actual Fartlek run:

15 minutes jogging, to the park. I stopped twice, because, let’s face it, this is only my second real run in a long time and my legs are not used to it.

6 reps of 1 minute of moderate running, 1 minute of walking

4 reps of 1 minute fast running (about a 9 min mile pace) followed by 1 minute of walking

5 minutes running to cool down

I ran a total of 3.6 miles in the 40 minutes and when I was done, I felt great. I don’t know why but my Nike Fitness Watch wouldn’t connect to the GPS – I usually use the watch in accordance with the Runkeeper app on my phone. I use the watch to record laps or intervals while the app records my total times. But today, I just let the app run and put the watch to stopwatch setting so I could time my intervals so that worked.

The weather was fantastic. 60 degrees in the park, which is something like a miracle considering that it snowed (flurries) yesterday, and the prediction is for snow again tomorrow. So I enjoyed it while I could AND I got a personal best for Fartleks. I have another speed session scheduled soon, and I’ll try to get a better record then because the goal is to RUN WRIGHT everytime.

Do you incorporate speed work as a regular part of your training?

Do you have any advice for my future Fartlek workouts?

One Comment Add yours

  1. It’s a funny word, and one of my favorite kind of runs.


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