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Don't be shy about Fart(lek)

Posted by Heather J.

Are you stuck in a workout rut? Bored with running the same route day after day? Here's one way to shake things up, and become a stronger runner at the same time: Fartlek. It's not as bad as it sounds, and yes, it's okay to do this in public, preferably on a road, track, or trail. Fartlek is the Swedish word for "speed play," and that's really all it's about: playing with speed. For example, start your run at your usual warm-up pace, then pick a landmark about 500 meters or more ahead and run to it at a fast pace. Recover at an easy pace for about the same distance. Repeat for the remainder of your run. Fartleks are a great way to add speed work to your schedule without the monotony of the track. I've also done more calculated fartleks: three repeats of one mile hard/one mile easy (plus warm-up and cool-down), or six or seven repeats of three minutes hard, three minutes easy. For me, "hard" meant right around 5K race pace, but if you're new to fartleks or speedwork in general, don't worry so much about hitting a particular pace; just focus on pushing yourself to run a little faster for a short chunk of time or distance. No Beano required.
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Fartleks are my favorite form of speed training. Here is my page on speed with some general comments.
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