Those who have just begun running/training and those who are head shaking, eyebrow raised observers, encounter this term and are instantly offended, worried, giggly or all of the above. Is it some strange practice developed on Gulags to run prisoners into submission? Is it a particularly flatulent hang-over run?
WHAT is FARTLEK??
Here is the required wiki explanation:
Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training.The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed varies, as the athlete wishes. Most fartlek sessions last a minimum of 45 minutes and can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting. Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise.
So that’s a pretty good and dry explanation but all the points are there.
Now – what does fartlek training mean to me? One word – AWESOMENESSTIME!!!
Have you ever been cruising along at a comfy pace and had a great song come on your mp3 player or seen an inspiring view or even had a happy thought, that made you pick up pace for a while? You’re smiling, flowing, grooving for 5-6 minutes then the song or thought or view disappears into the ether and you find yourself back at your comfy pace….THAT was a good example of what fartlek can be.
Think of a baseline run of about an hour and within that time you find 3-4 x 3 min bursts of inspired speed with it – THAT is a simple fartlek training cycle. The principal of Fartlek that I find the most important to stress is – speed PLAY. Play and enjoy and discover your joy through it. Training is difficult and punishing at times, yes, but it is also our passion alight and directed.
Try some speed PLAY in your next workout with a simple Fartlek progression of 60 min run with 4 x 3min PLAY bursts:).
I suggest trying a fartlek workout with some music in your ears. A favourite of mine is Curtis Mayfield’s Greatest Hits – a great combo of groove and funk and energy and just all around BADNESS and fun.
“Only in play can you have both. In play you realize simultaneously the supreme importance and the utter insignificance of what you are doing. You accept the paradox of pursuing what is at once essential and inconsequential. In play you can totally commit yourself to a goal that minutes later is completely forgotten. Play, then, is the answer to the puzzle of our existence, the stage for our excesses and exuberances. Violence and dissent are part of its joy. Territory is defended with every ounce of our strength and determination, and moments later we are embracing our opponents and delighting in the game that took place. Play is where life lives, where the game is the game. At its borders, we slip into heresy, become serious, lose our sense of humor, fail to see the incongruities of everything we hold to be important. Right and wrong become problematical. Money, power, position become ends. The game becomes winning. And we lose the good life and the good things that play”
– George Sheehan