Running wild - Fartlek training


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.

For example: 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.

Weight loss and running
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", they would.

The origins of Fartlek training
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".

Running off the cuff
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.

For example: 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
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.

Fartlek training - The final word
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.



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All information on this website is for information only. offers no medical advice or information. Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise