Benefits of Fartlek Training for Runners

The Benefits of Fartlek Training for Runners

Have you ever heard of the term fartlek? If not, don’t feel embarrassed – it’s a word of Swedish origin that means “speed play”, and it’s a form of aerobic exercise that can bring great benefits to runners. In this article, we’ll explore some of the advantages of fartlek training that might help you improve your running performance.


What is Fartlek?

Fartlek is a form of aerobic exercise that combines periods of high intensity running with periods of rest or lower intensity running. It’s basically like combining jogging, sprinting, and walking into one workout. One of the most appealing aspects of fartlek is that it’s fairly flexible and can be adapted to fit into any runner’s schedule.


Benefits of Fartlek Training

Improved Endurance
Fartlek training is a great way to increase your endurance. By alternating between periods of high intensity running and periods of rest or lower intensity running, your body will begin to adapt and become more efficient at utilizing fuel resources during a race. This improves your ability to run longer distances or work through higher-intensity workouts. Additionally, fartlek training will help you become mentally stronger, as you’ll need to push yourself through the periods of high intensity running and then recover quickly.
Increased Speed
Fartlek training can also be a great way to improve your speed. By pushing yourself to go hard during the faster-paced segments, you’ll gradually be able to run faster without exceeding your lactate threshold and you’ll be able to maintain a good pace even when fatigued.

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Improved Heart Health
Fartlek training can also have a positive impact on heart health. The interval-style running helps to increase your heart rate and get your blood flowing, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition, the high-intensity running periods will help to boost your metabolism and burn more calories.

Easy to Implement
One of the best things about fartlek training is that it’s easy to implement. You don’t need any special equipment — all you need is a good pair of running shoes. You can easily adjust your runs to fit your current fitness level, and you can choose to run any distance you’d like.


How To Do Fartlek Training

The first step is to plan the workout. Starting with an easy warmed-up run at a slower pace, then gradually alternate between short bursts of speed (aka accelerations) and slower recovery periods. Accelerations can range from 20 to 90 seconds, followed by a recovery in which the runner returns to a steady run. The total duration of the fartlek session should be between 20 and 60 minutes, depending on the runner’s level of fitness and competitive goals.

It’s important to vary the speed and duration of each set, creating a “playful” atmosphere in which the runner experiments with their form and pace. For example, a runner may start with a fast 15-second acceleration, followed by a slower recovery period, like a 30-second jog. They may then do a 30-second acceleration, followed by a 15-second rest. Throughout the workout, the runner can mix up the durations of each to prevent boredom and push themselves outside their comfort zone.

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During the accelerations, it’s important to focus on form and quality movement. Keeping the back straight and the head up, the runner should increase their stride rate and drive their arms more forcefully than during easy running. This can help with energy production and speed.

Fartlek training can be done on a variety of terrain, such as roads, hills, and trails, or a combination of all three. This provides mental stimulation and can challenge the runner to be more agile and work their body in different ways.

Finally, it’s important to properly warm-up and cool-down. The warm-up should consist of five to ten minutes of jogging or walking, followed by dynamic stretching and some mobility exercises to increase blood flow and activate the muscles. After the fartlek session, the runner should finish with a cool-down that includes more stretching and/or foam rolling for recovery.

In conclusion, fartlek training is an effective running workout for improving speed and endurance. It’s a fun, flexible way to challenge yourself and mix up your routine. If you’re looking to get faster, integrate fartlek training into your weekly routine and you’ll soon see results.



Fartlek training can positively impact a runner’s performance by helping to improve endurance, speed, and even heart health. It’s easy to implement, and it’s flexible enough to fit into any runner’s schedule. If you’re looking to give your running performance a boost, maybe it’s time to give fartlek training a try!

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