Fartlek is a swedish term which means speed play. It is a form of interval training mixed with aerobic running. It is not a traditional interval training workout as intensity, distance and duration is dependent on the runner. It is run on paces faster than race pace.
Swedish coach Gösta Holmér developed fartlek in 1937, and, since then, many physiologists have adopted it. It was designed for the downtrodden Swedish cross country running teams that had been beaten throughout the 1920s. <source>. This kind of a workout places demands on both aerobic as well as anaerobic system. Fartlek involves intermittent burst of speed with recovery jogs in between. The workout can range from 30-45 minutes. Each sprints can last from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Now the question comes if there’s interval sessions then what is the need of generating another way of training. Isn’t it all confusing? No, this type of running has it’s own benefits which are listed below –
1. In tune with body
Fartleks also involve speed running with easy recovery run. However, the distance and duration is dependent on the runner. Also, for newbies, it invokes a sense of competition among the fellow runners and is not hard on the body.
2. It’s fun
Fartleks are fun as it breaks the monotony of the oval track or football ground. In this you can challenge yourself to run all out till the next light post and walk thereafter. Or have fun with the run mates playing catch or taking turns to become the leader of the pack and controlling the speed.
It can be done on any type of terrain i.e plains, hills, beach or trails. It can be done for as much time as is comfortable for the runner. The schedule can be tweaked anyway and is not rigid like interval sessions.
4. Mental strength
Theses are helpful in building up mental robustness as it prepares the mind to catch up with fellow runners when they are surging past them. The sudden accelerating competition given is mimicked in this type of workout.
5. Better runner
Fartleks puts stress on anaerobic system because of high speed running thus improving base speed. According to researches, to run faster, you need to practice running faster. Fartleks helps in building a stronger, efficient and faster runner with enhanced cardiovascular system.
6. In tune with pace
Running fast frequently like in fartleks help in understanding the capabilities of the body. They help in understanding the speed body can handle or time taken to recover from hard running or sustaining a speed etc.
So, next time you don’t feel like going to the track and run around in circles, try fartleks on the road or trails. They will for sure enhance your capabilities as a runner, increase your base speed and break the monotony.
Till then stay fit and keep running.
1. Image - Google.