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The Top 6 Favourite Fartlek Sessions

Top 6 Fartlek Sessions

The following are considered the favourite six Fartlek sessions for athletes, which are beneficial to the various competition distances.

Note that all sessions have a 10 minute warm up jog and a 10 minute warm down. Because of the nature and often the stress of the session a thorough warm up is recommended, which should include a stretching routine to fully prepare the body.

Watson Fartlek
Beneficial training for 10k, 5k, 3k and cross country.

  • 10 minutes warm up jog.
  • Stride hard for 4 minutes with 1 minute jog recovery – repeat x 8
  • 10 minute warm down jog

Saltin Fartlek
Considered good training for 1500m, 5k and 3k runners.

  • 10 minutes warm up jog.
  • Stride hard for 3 minutes with 1 minute jog run recovery. Repeat x 6
  • 10 minute warm down jog

Astrand Fartlek
Considered to be beneficial towards 800m training.

  • 10 minutes warm up jog.
  • Max effort for 75 seconds, 150 secs jog run, max effort for 60 seconds, 120 seconds jog run. Repeat x 3
  • 10 minute warm down jog

Gerschler Fartlek
This is good training for further developing fitness rapidly when combined with steady running.

  • 10 minutes warm up jog.
  • Stride hard for 30 seconds, jog 90 seconds. repeat with 15 second     decreases in recovery jog e.g. 30-90, 30-75, 30-60, 30-45, 30-30, 30-15 and 30-15-30. Repeat x 3
  • 10 minute warm down jog

Hill Fartlek

  • 10 minutes warm up jog.
  • Select a 2 mile hilly course. Run hard up all hills twice before moving to the next hill, jog run between hills. Repeat x 3
  • 10 minute warm down jog

Do not select hills which are too long in duration or too steep

Whistle Fartlek
With the use of a whistle the coach controls the session. Best applied over a 1200m circumference grass area.

  • 10 minutes warm up jog.
  • When the whistle is blown the athletes run hard until the whistle is  blown again. Pyramid session of 4 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min, 2 min, 3     min, 4 min with a 60 second jog run recovery between each run.
  • 10 minute warm down jog

In conclusion: Fartlek sessions are best applied to an athlete who has a base of fitness and is not aimed at those developing their initial fitness. Also worthy of mention is that the very nature of fartlek is to provide an environment that breaks from the monotony of interval training on a track. Whereas, the session is meant to achieve a purpose, the secret is to avoid the mental tension that is often associated with track intervals.

Reference: MACKENZIE, B. (1998) Fartlek Training [WWW] Available from:

Further articles under the Fartlek method:

with more to follow

Author: Gavin Doyle


  1. Surely these are not fartlek sessions as they are structured:

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