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How to Do a Fartlek Workout

Running Workout: Fartlek Speed Play

Interval training is a great way to torch calories and improve your fitness level, but you don't need to be beholden to your stopwatch when doing speed work. You can add a dash of play to your sprints with a fartlek workout. Fartlek is the Swedish term for speed play, which just means changing your speed for varying distances while out on a run. How could a word that sounds so silly not be fun to put into practice?

This variation of interval training is perfect for urban areas since you can use different landmarks — like bus stops, benches, or the length of a city block — to set the distance of your sprints. Pick a spot ahead of you and increase your speed as you run toward it. Simple no? Keep reading for a sample workout after the break.

Activity Duration Details/Recovery Time
Warmup 3 minutes Brisk walk
Warmup 5 minutes Jog
Easy speed* 5x 1 minute 1 minute recover**
5x sprints 1 block length 1 block length recover
4x short sprints 20 seconds 1 minute recover
Cooldown 5 minutes Jog
Cooldown 3 minutes Brisk walk

*Easy speed is not a full sprint, but running at a fairly quick pace
**Recover means jog, so your heart rate can slow down

This workout is simply a rough guide: you can create your own plan using the landscape of your neighborhood to keep track of distances for sprints. Run at an accelerated pace to a streetlight, then do a full-out sprint to the corner, and recover by jogging past three more streetlights. It's kind of like playing Candy Land when you were a kid, but now you get to make up all the rules.

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
taylvs3 taylvs3 8 years
Not that interval training is an innately Swedish concept, but the word fartlek, clearly of Germanic origin and similar to the German word, is used here and often by runners to describe this type of training.
runningesq runningesq 8 years
Fartleks are a great way to have fun with speed.
xtinabeena xtinabeena 8 years
i did one yesterday!!! but i use time - like 30 seconds fast and 30 seconds slow... and 7-10 sets of this. i'll set my watch's timer to go off every 30 seconds. (and of course a 5 min warm up jog before and 3-5 min cool down jog after.)
LoveandRockets LoveandRockets 8 years
This further increases my desire to live in a big city! I've been doing interval-style cardio now for awhile, but I'm starting to get bored with it.
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