Fartlek = Swedish for Fast

More than just a funny sound­ing word, Fartlek work­outs will im­prove your speed game and re­duce the chance of in­jury dur­ing cold-weather train­ing

Canadian Running - - ONE WORKOUT - By Kate Van Buskirk

What it is

‘Fartlek ’ is a Swedish word mean­ing ‘speed play’ and sim­ply def ined as al­ter­nat­ing pe­ri­ods of faster and slower run­ning. Fartlek work­outs in­volve loosely st r uc­tured in­ter­vals or ‘pick-ups’ that are time and ef­fort-based, rather than try­ing to hit specif ic paces over a cer­tain dis­tance. In fartleks, run­ners move through­out t he en­tirety of the work­out. This means that un­like more struct ured work­outs t hat in­cor­po­rate st at ic rest bet ween re­peats, fartleks in­volve ‘ac­tive rest’ and are there­fore lower in in­ten­sit y t han t ra­dit ional in­ter­val train­ing.

Why to do it

In the cold­est months of the year, it takes longer for our mus­cles to warm up, which can in­crease the risk of in­jury if we at­tempt high in­ten­sity in­ter­val work­outs. Bulky lay­ers can weigh us down and make move­ment laboured. Re­turn­ing to run­ning af­ter in­dulging dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son leads to slug­gish­ness. Try­ing to hit cer­tain time goals for dis­tance-based in­ter­vals may prove chal­leng­ing and de­mor­al­iz­ing un­der these con­di­tions. This fartlek work­out helps to build en­durance as well as sim­u­lat­ing pace changes in a race.

How to do it

Do a 10–15 minute easy warm-up run, then 6 to 8 pick-ups of 3 min­utes ‘ hard’, each fol­lowed by 1 minute ‘easy’. The ‘ hard ’ sec­tions should be done at 10k race ef­fort, and the ‘easy’ por­tions should be at a very re­laxed jog. Per­form your first cou­ple of pick­ups con­ser­va­tively, as the goal is to main­tain or slightly in­crease ef­fort through­out the work­out. Make your last pick-up ap­prox­i­mately the same pace or even slightly faster than your first. I rec­om­mend leav­ing your gps watch at home and run­ning en­tirely by time and feel. Fin­ish with a 10 –15 minute easy cool-down run. Kate Van Buskirk is a pro­fes­sional track and field ath­lete, com­pet­ing for Team Canada and Nike. She spe­cial­izes in the 1,500m and 5,000m events. Kate is also the ed­i­tor for Cana­dian Run­ning’s Shake­out Pod­cast.

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