Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Fartlek Run: Workouts To Perform Optimally

A fartlek run can be of the best things you can do in your training if you haven't already implemented this into your schedule.

fartlek run

Every race we are faced with ever increasing changes in pace.

We get set into one pace and then find ourselves at the end of the race able to increase our cadence into an all-out sprint.

How can we one minute go from being 7 miles into a half-marathon thinking we are not going to finish the race and then not only finish but finish in a sprint at the completion of the distance?

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Don't second guess yourself

There is always more than we can actually give.

Fartlek training teaches you to react to pace changes and if you are competing against someone else other than the clock you will know full well that you will be able to react because you did the work in training.

I'm doing one of my favorites tomorrow morning 10x2minutes hard followed by 1 minute easy..aiming for sub 5 minute pace for the hard sections and around 5.45-6.00 pace for the ‘easy' segments.

Change up workouts

There are so many ways you can tweak and adjust these forms of workouts. In addition, these workouts get you away from having to think about hitting specific splits on the track. It is a great way to break up the monotony of our training, spice things up a bit.

It is just you and the effort and barreling through the hard segments, backing off, then attacking again..just like in the race.

A fartlek run is unique in that there are no rules. You can run as fast as you would like or change up the paces as much as you permit yourself to do so.

You can set your Garmin to beep or vibrate every 2, 3, 5 or however many minutes you wish and have less then, equal to or more rest if need be.

You can set distance or time as your overall fartlek run goal.

I have attached a few of my favorite fartlek workouts that I would like to share and that have assisted me in the past.

Fartlek Run Examples

10x2minutes hard followed by 1 minute easy.

I would highly recommend aiming to run 10-20 seconds below your goal race pace for the hard segments.

The ‘easy' segments should not be a jog.

Remember there are no rest periods in a race.

Stay patient

This will come with time so don't rush the process.

Always take value in the process.

Thinking of the event (the goal race) weeks and months in advance is normal, just don't over think it.

Let your fitness come to you. What you are doing now, the process, is what counts.

5x2k with 1k easy

The majority of my fartlek run workouts are done on the road. In addition, you can just as easily do them on the track.

Running on softer surfaces is best if you have that luxury. Here in the states we have far too much concrete or pavement.

This is a very tough workout in that it is 20 kilometers in length or just over 12 miles.

This is what I call my ‘dangerous' workout.

I know I am ready when I am running around 4.50 pace for the hard segments and about 6 minute mile pace for the ‘easy' recovery segments.

It is perfect if you are gearing up for the 5K to marathon distance.

It can make you incredibly strong for shorter distances and fully prepared for distances up to the marathon.

There is not a lot of recovery in this workout. The easy 1K segments are about 30 seconds slower than goal pace. Furthermore, the fast segments I try to hit about 10-20 seconds per mile faster than goal race pace.

Again, don't jump into these distances right from the start of your training. We had to learn to crawl before we could walk, not the other way around.

Remember the process.

 30x1minute hard followed by 1 minute easy

Overall, we are talking about an hour of very hard running.

This is a great workout to teach you to be fully aware of any pace changes your competition throws at you.

This was my first fartlek workout I did as a collegiate athlete. I trained with 2.10 Kenyan marathoner, Gilbert Rutto, while I was attending Malone University in Canton, Ohio.

In closing, a fartlek run is a great tool you can add to your training regimen, Additionally, it teaches the body to deal with demand of ever increasing amounts of lactic acid within the blood stream.

Focus on faster running

Remember, faster running is the only way to built up lactic tolerance. It doesn't happen by running easy for long periods of time.

That is a great way to burn fat and perhaps that is your main goal.

Lastly, if you have a specific goal in mind for your race faster fartlek run workouts such as these will get the job done.

The Kenyans make it look easy not because they are genetically talented.

They have trained their body's physiology capability. There are a few of the physiological benefits of fartlek run workouts.

Fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment

Increased capillary bed

Increased mitochondria production.

So, it is your turn now to take action and get a return on your investment with fartlek run workouts.

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