Chances are that by now you’ve probably heard of interval training, which combines short periods of high-intensity exercise with periods of rest. Now, the Washington Post reports on the resurgence of an old training system from the 1970s called fartleks, which is similar to intervals and is becoming popular again with some distance runners. Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play,” and involves continually varying running pace and terrain in order to make your training routine more enjoyable. The difference between a fartlek workout and an interval workout is that there is no rest period—you’re running the whole time. For example, you could run a mile, then do several sets of fartleks—run hard for one minute, run easy for one minute—and then top it off with another mile. There’s also a lot of room for play with fartleks: if you find that a minute of hard running is too intense on a particular day, decrease it to 30 seconds; but if you’re feeling spry, increase the time or intensity of your fartlek sets. If you’d like to get in on the fun, here are some tips to get you started:
Go at your own pace. Stay within a range of intensity that you can achieve. Push yourself hard and then go easy, and be sure to check in with yourself to make sure it still feels good.
Choose your fartlek challenge. Fartleks don’t have to be any set distance or time period. You can do them between two telephone poles or on a track, and you can choose a time limit that works for you.
Don’t do daily fartleks. You may have so much fun that you’ll want to do fartlek workouts every day. Even if you’re itching to do another one, give yourself a day to rest after a strenuous workout.
Source: Washington Post