By Eddie Suarez
This funny sounding word comes from our running friends over in Sweden. It combines the Swedish word fart meaning speed and the Swedish word lek meaning play to get fartlek or speedplay. Fartlek isn’t just fun to say but it’s a great way to mix up your routine and gain some speed in the process. Fartleks are best done in groups because it allows for even further variation of the workout.
Start your run as you normally would, warming up for about 10 minutes. Once warmed up, you’ll “play” with speed. Run at an easy to moderate pace for about a minute or two, then increase to a hard effort for a short period of time. I know a short period of time is relative but these really are meant to be short. Pick out a tree or sign in the distance and go for it! Yes really GO! This is meant to be a HARD effort. However, do not go faster by increasing your stride length because it can lead to discomfort, pain, or injuries. Instead, focus on turning your legs over more often. After you reach the desired target, recover by running at an easy effort. Repeat this process, of moderate, then hard, and finally easy a handful of times. Exactly how many, how fast, and how long is up to you. That’s the play part of the fartlek. If you’re running with a group, then take turns leading the charge! Different leaders will mean different paces with each hard effort, pushing the limits of each of the runners. This variant in the paces and times will make it a funner run and make you a better runner. End the workout by running easy for 5 to 10 minutes to cool down.
Now go out there and FARTLEK!