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Fartlek And Interval Training: How To Run Faster For Triathlons

Faster Running For Triathletes With Fartlek And Interval Training

First of all, a fartlek is not something that happened to you during your last training run because you failed to use the bathroom beforehand. We probably all agree that some words don’t quite work as well in English. But anyhow, “fartlek” if you haven’t yet been informed, is Swedish for “speed play.” And, when it comes to running for triathletes, who wouldn’t rather play instead!? In my last post about How To Run Faster, I touched on the ideas of using fartleks and intervals to (more easily) run faster without the all the needless suffering involved with pushing yourself at a faster pace for a longer period of time. Here are some of the differences of fartlek training and interval training, how they both work, and what I like about each.

Fartleck for triathlon training | TwoTri.com

How to Run Intervals

Interval training, in a nutshell is a short burst of faster speed, followed by a period of recovery, and then alternating back and forth for the duration of the workout. It uses an “interval” of increased speed and intensity. Obviously, you won’t be able to maintain this faster running speed for very long, so an interval workout is stacked with lower speed, low intensity recovery periods. A basic running interval workout would look something like this: 5-10 minute warmup 1 minute hard run (this is a pace that is hard to sustain) 2 minute recovery run (this is a pace where you can catch your breathe and get ready for the next interval) Fartleck for triathlon training | TwoTri.comAlternate between the two interval running intensity levels 5-10 times 5-10 minute cool down Or on a track it would be something like a full lap (400 meters) at higher/faster pace followed by a half lap (200 meters) of recovery pace. Many running coaches use intervals to plan very specific running workouts for their triathletes. For example, the interval could look something like: 5 minutes running at race pace, followed 2 minutes of 10% less than race pace. Or, for another example: 2 minutes of 5k racing pace, stacked with 1 minute of marathon race pace. Running intervals, as you can see, are more regularly scheduled and planned intervals of faster running speed. They are often times systematic / methodical and require a track or measured distance, a timer to monitor the pace, and the triathlon training knowledge to figure out everything ahead of time.

Fartlek Running And Why I Love Them

Running fartleks I think are a lot more fun than intervals, mostly because they are less formal and more random and spontaneous. You don’t have to sit down and plan out your fartlek training, neither do you have to really keep track of pace and speed. You will, however, get most of the benefits of an increased pace as you learn how to run faster with fartleks. With fartlek training, you’ll get all the benefits of running intervals without the boredom of running on a track or watching the clock. [box] Side note: You’ll most likely find it helpful to have a basic understanding of the Borg’s Scale I wrote about in this post with your fartlek running. [/box] The only other thing you’ll need is a little motivation. But trust me: once you get started, you’ll have a burst! I mean a blast! Remember that fartlek actually means speed play? Fartleck for triathlon training | TwoTri.com

How to Run a Fartlek

Alright, so you lace up your new running shoes and head for a run. It’s a beautiful day out, and I’m sure you’re feeling great! At some point during your run (after you’re good and warmed up, of course), you could say to yourself something like this: “I’m going to sprint to the end of this block!”You go all out – or at least pick up your speed drastically – until you reach the end of the block. By then, you may just be huffing and puffing, so simply slow down to catch your breath before choosing another one.

More examples of fartlek running:

Landmark Method: Choose a landmark off in the distance, and sprint to it. Once you get past it, slow down, catch your breath, and then pick another.

Step Counter: Pick up the speed for a certain number of steps, i.e., “I’m going to pick it up for 50 steps (counting every right foot strike).

Countdown Alarm: Have a countdown timer on your watch set for 30-60 seconds. Start the timer and get your butt in gear!

TwoTri.com Fan Favorite: Make a playlist that alternates upbeat songs and a little slower songs. And you know what to do when your super-power-up song comes on!

Creative Style: (And here’s yet another style, just to get your heart rate up) Never pass a set of stairs without charging up and down them a couple times before continuing on! As you can see, you’ll need a little motivation to make yourself run faster – but fartlek running is a fun way to do it! And I promise you that once you just get started the rest will start to come naturally, and you’ll soon get to the point where you enjoy it all. Plus, you’ll be running faster and that’s always more fun anyway! Fartleck for triathlon training | TwoTri.com

So to run faster for triathlons, do some fartleks!

About Author

Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →

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