When running many of us just go through the same old motions without actually
thinking about what we are doing and why we are doing it.
: Many weekend footballers go
for a mid week long distance jog without actually understanding that this
form of exercise isn't fully utilising the systems used in a typical game
of football - short bursts of speed, followed by varying times of recovery,
periods of jogging, longer runs or bursts of speed.
The same can be said of people trying to lose weight. Of course long distance
running burns lots of excess calories. But what if there was a running programme
which incorporated workloads of varying degrees and speed, power performed
on different terrain? Would they lose weight quicker? The answer is "Yes",
This is where 'Fartlek Training' comes in. Fartlek training was developed
in in 1930's Sweden. The term 'Fartlek' when translated into English literally
means 'Speed Play'.
The principle idea behind a 'Speed Play' workout is that the athlete combines
continuos training with interval training without actually structuring the
complete programme. In it's purest form Fartlek training will be performed
without thinking about it. To coin a well known sports slogan, Fartlek performers
don't think, they "Just do it".
What to I mean? Well in sport, the pace of the game is usually something
that you can't solely dictate. The gear and tempo change in sport isn't
ridged or precise. It is determined by a number of factors: the players
around you, the direction of play etc. It is with this in mind that you
should run at varying degrees of speed and power when in training.
: You approach a hill that you
would usually jog up. But on your next run you don't: you look at the hill
and sprint up to half way. Then you slow down to a jog. After 30 seconds
you sprint again to the top. Alternatively, on your next run you interlace
periods of hard work and recovery / slow pace work by running and sprinting
between landmarks or markers (e.g. lamp posts, post boxes, street corners
etc). This off the cuff training style is Fartlek training.
The benefits of Fartlek training should, I hope, be apparent to you now.
Continually running at one pace over and over again, workout after workout,
will mean that performing at higher levels will be extremely hard work indeed.
Fartlek training will allow your mind and body to be accustomed to training
at higher than normal levels. This in turn means you have the chance to
greatly improve your aerobic and anaerobic systems and, if required, lose
weight more effectively.
We all understand the benefits of interval training. Well think of Fartlek
training in the same way. However, unlike interval training, the work-rest
intervals are not measure by time but how the body feels. For reason, Fartlek
training can be used by all levels of athletes and runners, from complete
beginners to advanced Olympic runners.