The Fartlek: A Quick, Effective Workout for Anywhere!

July 10, 2014 Posted By: Corporate

Mizuno Athlete Craig Curley provides a quick workout that is also highly effective for when you are short on time! 

As a runner I look for simplicity in training. Whenever I’m in a bind on time or not familiar with the area, I prefer to do a Fartlek run. Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play”. Why would I Fartlek? First off, I don’t necessarily need a track or need to know a measured distance and this is good when I’m traveling. Secondly, we have all probably done a Fartlek in our life at some point and not known that there was a definition. When I was a boy, I would play tag at school with friends and I would alternate between running fast and slow to keep from getting tagged, this Fartlek-ing at its finest.


Most important to note here is that there are different variations of Fartlek runs, however, I’m only going to give one variation.


Where to Fartlek

At the beginning of this year I was in Tuba City, Arizona for a running clinic. I was busy throughout the day and I was in the middle of training for the USA Half Marathon Championships. So my main question, like every other busy person out there was, “How could I get a workout at night, in a dark, foreign city I didn’t know?” I didn’t want to pound out a Fartlek on a treadmill, so I noticed my hotel parking lot had extremely good lighting, hotel parking lots are perfect for Fartlek’s!


Need to Know

Set your watch to beep precisely at one minute intervals. Don’t set your watch off until you’ve done a warm-up. Warm up for about 10-20 minutes at a slow, easy pace, depending on your ability.

Next, decide on how many sets to do. A good example Fartlek, and my preference, is eight to ten sets. Run one minute at easy effort pace and three minutes at hard effort pace is counted as one set. To make things easy, you can think of it as the pattern one minute “OFF” for easy pace effort and three minutes “ON” for hard effort.


Get Dialed In

When listening for the one minute beeps you’re forced to live in one minute segments. By living in the one minute segment, you’re adapting to being in the moment. My coach calls being in the moment: “staying engaged”. Staying engaged is an important tool for a runner because we need to be receptive to the information around us, whether it’s controlling speed or making sure you don’t empty the tank too soon.

The benefit of being receptive to information around us is the opportunity to foresee certain things happening before they occur, like a side-stitch. If I feel a side-stitch occurring I can counter the side-stitch by taking a deep breaths or relaxing my arms. Being able to intuitively foresee these sorts of things ahead of time is an advantage in your playing field. By practicing this Fartlek workout with one minute increments your brain will begin to think in one minute increments.


Deliberately Control Your Thoughts

Every minute during the OFF portion of the Fartlek you should think about your breathing pattern, maintaining cadence and monitoring your running form. After a few sets and enough practice, monitoring these things will become second nature out of habit. Then, the real fun begins… you’ll be zoning out on yourself and getting rid of any distractions. Fartlek runs should remind us that running is intuitive and getting lost in the movement will help you to increase your running efficiency.  


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