Excuse me…Fart what?
Have you ever been at a race of hanging out with some running buddies and overheard the word “fartlek” and wondered why they were discussing flatulence? Fartlek is a Swedish term that translated means “speed play.”
Okay, but what is a fartlek? A fartlek is a regular run interspersed with bouts of speed, or an informal speed workout. This can be as simple as sprinting to a telephone pole and then jogging to the next, then repeating this exercise. In high school, my coach had us run fartlek workouts that he referred to as “Minutes”. We would run a minute “on” or up-tempo and then a minute “off” or at an easier effort. The timed intervals could increase or decrease so that a standard “Minutes” workout would look like this:
1-2-3-3-2-1, meaning 1 minute on, 1 minute off, 2 minutes on, 2 minutes off, etc.
During cross country season, “on” minutes can be defined as 5-k pace and “off” minutes are training run pace.
These informal speed sessions are great early season workouts for veterans or for beginners, just exploring the benefits of speed work, because fartleks are based on perceived effort rather than distance and pace.