Boredom is often only step behind repetition. Fartleks and speed workouts change up your running routine while increasing speed and building endurance.
What is it?
Pardon our Swedish. Fartlek, meaning “speed play,” is a workout during which you alter pace throughout the run. Normally, the shift is from jogging to sprinting and back; cadences are altered to fit your goals and (dis)comfort level. This ranges from sprinting straights and jogging curves on the track to jogging one block and fast walking the next.
Why do it?
The Fartlek workout prepares you physically and mentally for the speed differentials encountered during distance races. You’ll go through both anaerobic and aerobic exercise, increasing endurance while building muscle and speed.
Put it into practice:
For your first time, try this workout on a track or somewhere with obvious distance markers. Loosen up your muscles with a 10-15 minute jog before the workout. Jog a lap around the track (block or path). As you cross the start line again, transition to a sprint or hard run for a second lap. Do this pace changing for a few minutes to get a feel for the fartlek. Cool down with a light 10-15 jog and stretch.
Best For: Race training, endurance, speed endurance.
What is it?
This speed workout is characterized by short intervals of high exertion, immediately followed by short recovery intervals.
Why do it?
Doing intervals is a type of anaerobic workout to focus on building muscle and speed rather than solely increasing fitness or endurance.
Put it in practice:
Before doing interval training, jog for 10-15 minutes to loosen up your muscles. Following your jog is a perfect time to do drills [link drills article] and strides to prepare your legs for a hard workout.
Run 40-50 meters and walk back. After a 30-40 second interval, get on the line and repeat the first rep. Repeat this 4X-6X, adding rest time as needed. Target 85% of maximum exertion, shy of a full sprint, to permit multiple intervals.
The high exertion interval can extend based upon on the workout (e.g., run hard for 2 minutes and jog or walk for 2 minutes to prepare for the next rep). Extending the intervals improves endurance at speed rather than simply increasing top speed.
Cool down with an easy jog for 10-15 minutes following your workout making certain to stretch and/or roll.
Best For: Increasing speed and speed endurance.
If you have a coach, trainer or track-savvy friend, ask for guidance through the exercises. There is no rigid structure for either one, so feel free to tune them to your overall program.