Every race we are faced with ever increasing changes in pace.
We get set into one pace and than find ourselves at the end of the race able to increase our cadence into an all-out sprint.
How can we one minute go from being 7 miles into a half-marathon thinking we are not going to finish the race and than not only finish but finish in a sprint at the completion of the distance?
There is always more than we can actually give.
Fartlek training teaches you to react to pace changes and if you are competing against someone else other than the clock you will know full well that you will be able to react because you did the work in training.
I’m doing one of my favorites tomorrow morning 10x2minutes hard followed by 1 minute easy..aiming for sub 5 minute pace for the hard sections and around 5.45-6.00 pace for the ‘easy’ segments.
There are so many ways you can tweak and adjust these forms of workouts but it gets you away from having to think about mile repetitions or hitting specific splits on the track. It is a great way to break up the monotony of our training, spice things up a bit.
It is just you and the effort and barreling through the hard segments, backing off, than attacking again..just like in the race.
A fartlek run is unique in that there are no rules. You can run as fast as you would like or change up the paces as much as you permit yourself to do so.
You can set your Garmin to beep or vibrate every 2, 3, 5 or however many minutes you wish and have less then, equal to or more rest if need be.
You can set distance or time as your overall fartlek run goal.
I have attachéd a few of my favorite fartlek workouts that I would like to share and that have assisted me in the past.
Fartlek Run Examples
1. 10x2minutes hard followed by 1 minute easy.
I would highly recommend aiming to run 10-20 seconds below your goal race pace for the hard segments.
The ‘easy’ segments should not be a jog.
Remember there are no rest periods in a race.
If you are early in your training base phase than plan accordingly for slower hard segment and more rest and easier running during the ‘easy’ segments, as your fitness progresses, branch out into longer harder segments with faster ‘easy’ segments.
This will come with time so don’t rush the process.
Always take value in the process.
Thinking of the event (the goal race) weeks and months in advance is normal, just don’t over think it.
Let your fitness come to you. What you are doing NOW, the process, is what counts.
2. 5x2k with 1k easy
The majority of my fartlek run workouts are done on the road but you can just as easily do them on the track, especially if you want to run on a flat softer surface.
Here in the states we already run on far too much pavement and concrete so the latter may be a better choice regardless.
This is a very tough workout in that it is 20 kilometers in length or just over 12 miles.
This is what I call my ‘dangerous’ workout. I know I am ready when I am running around 4.50 pace for the hard segments and about 5.45 pace for the ‘easy’ recovery segments.
It is perfect if you are gearing up for the 5K to marathon distance.
It can make you incredibly strong for shorter distances and fully prepared for distances up to the marathon.
There is not a lot of recovery in this workout. The easy 1K segments are about 30 seconds slower than goal pace and the fast segments I try to hit about 10-20 seconds per mile faster than goal race pace.
Again, don’t jump into these distances right from the start of your training. We had to learn to crawl before we could walk, not the other way around.
Remember the process.
3. 30x1minute hard followed by 1 minute easy
Overall, we are talking about an hour of very hard running. A great workout to teach you to be fully aware of any pace changes your competition throws at you.
This was my first fartlek workout I did as a collegiate athlete training with 2.14 Kenyan marathoner, Gilber Rutto, while I was attending Malone University in canton, Ohio.
In closing, a fartlek run is a great tool you can add to your training regimen and it is a unique workout in that it teaches the body to deal with demand of ever increasing amounts of lactic acid within the blood stream.
Remember, faster running is the only way to built up lactic tolerance. It doesn’t happen by running easy for long periods of time.
That is a great way to burn fat and perhaps that is your main goal. Fantastic.
That being said, if you have a specific goal in mind for your race faster fartlek run workouts such as these will get the job done.
The Kenyans make it look easy not soely because they are genetically talented but because they have trained their body’s physiology capability i.e. fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment, increased capillary bed and mitochondria production, that race pace almost is easier than the training they have done.