Speed play, or as the Swedish call it – fartlek, is a form of interval training designed for runners to improve their strength, stamina, and mental awareness.
If you easily get bored with a conventional workout, especially running regimes, fartlek might just be the right fit for you.
The Difference Between Fartlek and Conventional Interval Training
Interval training is great for burning fat, increasing stamina and strength, but it can become predictable and boring. It is highly structured and it if you do not run on a treadmill, you will need a stopwatch. It is based on predetermined intervals of high and low pace.
Fartlek, on the other hand, does the same thing, but with one major difference—it is not structured at all. That means that you are the one who decides when will you run at the highest pace and for how long.
That can be fun especially if you have a running buddy. You can both surprise and challenge each other with sessions of fast intervals.
Teach Me How to Fartlek
Fartlek is pretty much intuitive, therefore not so hard to perform. However, there are certain guidelines you should follow.
First and foremost, do not start with your highest pace. Start with a little bit of warm up to avoid potential injury. Then, if you are running outside, determine some landmarks such as street lights or trees that will help you plan your intervals. For instance, you will run at a low pace between 5 trees or streetlights, and then give it to it good for the next two or three.
If it is a rainy day and you are at the gym on a treadmill, your marks can be songs on radio or commercials on TV. Make sure not to plan too much and do not use a stopwatch because it will then be the interval training. Just listen to your body and have fun.
Examples of Fartlek Training
Your fartlek workout should consist of five to ten minutes of warm-up, fast and slow intervals according to your preference, and a cool down.
If you are my kind of people and you require a little bit of structure no matter what you do, you can make marks in your head. For example, you can jog between 3 streetlights, sprint between 2, jog between 5, sprint between 3, jog between 4, and sprint between 4.
No matter what you decide and how you decide to do the workout, make sure to keep it random!
You can also increase your pace every 5 to 10 minutes, and after one minute you can go back to the jog mode.
Fartlek is definitely a breeze of fresh air in the world of running. It has all the benefits of interval training but with minimum to no structure which makes it fun to do, especially with a running buddy or in a group.
Jog and sprint intervals take turns according to your individual preference and ability. If you easily get bored with doing the same old interval every day, you should definitely give fartlek a shot!