Do you find yourself stuck at a specific running speed? Are you tired of running at the same pace in every one of your races? There is a workout that is designed for you that will help you increase your running speed. The workout is Fartlek. It is used by runners to improve their speed as well as the efficiency of the cardiovascular system.
Definition of Fartlek
“Fartlek” is Swedish for “Speed Play”. I have also heard people I trust translate it into “Speed Work”, but it really makes no difference. It differs from the other types of speed work in its basic design. In track workouts or even your tempo runs, the pace should be pretty similar. In a fartlek, the speed changes regularly. In a single workout you do a bit of tempo running, run easy, then do some intervals, run easy again, do a few sprints, etc. Fartlek helps to improve your ability to accelerate quickly during a race, either to overtake runner ahead of you or to push your pace up a hill or the last miles.
How to Do It
These are very simple workouts. I would suggest if you have a 3.0 or 4.0 mile run, start out and run the first mile easy, taking time to make sure your body is really warmed-up. Pick up your pace to your 1/2 marathon pace and cover the next 0.5 miles at that pace. Your heart rate should be pretty stable by this point. Now I want you to start picking out landmarks that are about 20 yards ahead of you and literally accelerate until you are under your 5K pace. Once you pass the landmark, slow back down and run steady at a comfortable pace until your heart rate comes back down. If you want to push it, only give yourself about 2 minutes to recover. Get that time down to 1 minute over time. Repeat that process over and over again until you have about a mile left in your workout.
Spend the last mile running at your marathon pace and let your body wind down. Especially after this workout, make sure you stretch and get your hamstrings opened up. This step will help you maintain your stride even after this tough workout.
Common Fartlek Workouts To get You Faster at Running.
There are several types of fartleks that boost running speed.
Spend a mile warming up and the speed up to :15 seconds faster than your 5K pace for 4 minutes. Spend one minute recovering and bringing your heart rate down. I like to repeat this workout anywhere from four to eight times. I then like to spend a mile cooling down.
Spend a mile warming up. Find yourself a hilly course that is set up with rollers that is preferably about 4.0-5.0 miles long. Spend the entire hills section running the uphills hard, focusing on cresting and running through the top of the hill, and taking it easy on the downhills. Make sure you spend at least a mile cooling down.
Advantages of Fartlek workouts
There are some advantages to fartlek workouts:
It is Fun
It can be real fun for you. No other running workout will allow you to have more fun than the fartlek. Its basically all up to you how you want to maintain speeds or achieve some time goals, as long as you can keep it exciting and challenging. Fartleks are fun to do in that aspect.
Everyone Can Do It
Anybody can do fartlek. It is an excellent introduction to speed training for beginners. It is also great for more advanced runners who have just come out of a longer period of base building. Instead of having to comply to the rigour of structured speed sessions you can just go by feel and get back into faster running more easily.
Improves Endurance and Increases Your Running Speed
Fartlek workouts are, despite the playful nature, still speed running training sessions. They count as “hard” workouts and should be followed by a day of recovery running or rest. Also make sure that you start and end your fartlek session with easy running so that you properly warm-up and cool-down.
A Fartlek workout is one of many tools that you can use to improve your running speed. As you begin structuring your workouts and giving each one a purpose instead of just getting out and running, you can make improvements that to levels that you previously thought impossible! Good luck!