What is Fartlek? by Larry Eder

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Fartlek is a great way of training for many around the world. The term is from Swedish, and it means "speed play". I first started using it in high school, and it remained one of my favorite training methods. Consider adding it to your training arsenal. 

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Galen Rupp, Mo Farah, A Day in the Life, 
photo by Doug Pensinger, Getty Images/IAAF, April 13, 2013
Fartlek is a training technique that was developed by the Swedish coach, Gosta Holmer, during the 1930s and 1940s. Fartlek is the Swedish word for speed play. Holmer developed the training to utilize the walking paths across Sweden and give his runners something more than intervals, the way most trained at the time. 

Fartlek can be simple, and it can be complex. My first Fartlek workouts were done on golf courses (early, so we did not get chased off). We would charge each hill on the course, so for us, about every 300-500 yards, we had a good hill, we would jog for recovery until the next hill. 

Another fartlek workout is to warm up, and do a series of runs, say one minute, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes, at 5k race pace, with same time to recover. Fartlek can go from twenty minutes to two hours. 

My favorite was on a ball field. Wanting to get off the track, I would go to San Jose City College and run the fence, about 200 yards, at mile pace, and jog back, sometimes, repeating it six to twenty times, depending on the time in season. 

Holmer Fartlek was the simplest. One would go out on a run, say thirty minutes and return the same way, increasing the pace every ten minutes, to get back much faster than one started. 

Fartlek is deceptive. Holmer wanted to give his runners something that had variety in it. Fartlek workouts on trails, and hills, and in parks is a great way to workout. 

Think about adding Fartlek to your workout routines...

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