Fartlek running is a great way for distance runners to build speed in a fun, low-stress way. Swedish for “speed play,” these workouts are less structured than a traditional interval workout, but their lack of true rest keeps them challenging. This fast-finish fartlek plays with both the length and intensity of the work intervals and, because you don’t need to follow any set pace, it feels like you’re playing a game. After all, who says getting faster can’t be fun, too?
To perform this fartlek, you will need a watch to time the intervals, but you don’t need to worry about your exact speed. In fact, we encourage you to turn your GPS off and simply run by feel to really have fun with this workout. The main set for this session includes three intervals of decreasing length. As the interval gets shorter, your goal is to run a bit faster. If you’re new to speedwork, or are just starting back after some time off, only do two to three sets, but if you’re looking for more of a challenge, repeat the set as many times as you like.
Unlike interval workouts when you might stop or walk during the rest, the goal with a fartlek is to simply slow down to an easy jog between hard efforts. With that in mind, be sure to choose your pace for the intervals wisely, so you are still able to do the entire run without stopping.
Warmup: 10-15 minutes easy jog
Workout: 5 min hard/ 2 min easy/ 3 min hard/ 2 min easy/1 min hard/2 min easy; repeat 2-4 times, or more
Cooldown: 10-15 minutes easy jog, followed by light stretching.
This story originally appeared on the Canadian Running website.