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What is fartlek?

The word fartlek is a Swedish word that translates directly into “speed play”. Fartlek is a great way to develop endurance and strength as well as increase speed. Fartlek is a more systematic form of pace training.

Fartlek’s history

The Swedish olympic athlete Gösta Holmer developed fartlek training in 1937, as a result of Paavo Nurmi and the other “flying finns” defeating Swedish cross-country runners throughout the 1920s. Holmer’s plan was to run faster than the race pace in training and focus on both speed and endurance training.

Fartlek training

Compared to interval training, fartlek is less structured. Interval training is built on running a given distance at a certain time and at a certain rest between intervals. Fartlek is built around a given time. For example, 2 minutes are run at the desired pace (for instance 10km race pace), followed by a recovery jog until the next 2 minutes at the desired pace. You can do this anywhere. The terrain can consist of rolling hills or it can be flat, whatever you prefer or you have available.

The effort, duration and terrain are all determined by the runner. As mentioned earlier, fartlek is suitable for all types of terrain, even the running track.

Fartlek develops both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. It has become a popular form of training among runners, offering a nice variation to their training routine.

Fartlek is basically a workout where a changing pace brings more variety and enjoyment to your training. It is similar to interval training. Interval training is more disciplined and precise in terms of goals, time and distance. Fartlek is not as challenging and can be adapted to suit everyone’s needs and different kinds of terrain.

Written by Piia Doyle
translated by U.N.A Doyle




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