Running The Mind

Running The Mind
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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

FARTLEK

One of the greatest forms of training ever invented, Fartlek, meaning "speed play" in Swedish, is mainly an aerobic workout that can also utilize the anaerobic systems. Fartleks are conducted during continuous runs in which your pace varies for set upon intervals and/or distances. They can be conducted on any type of surface, roads, trails, beaches, the track, etc...I like to break Fartleks into three categories; 1) Base Phase, 2) Interval Phase, and 3) Maintenance Phase.

1) Base Phase Fartlek.
The base phase starts out with a period of slow running, followed by a period of slow running with steady state runs, and concludes with the introduction of threshold runs. Fartlek is a type of threshold run that comes toward the end of the base phase. At this point, the purpose of the Fartlek is to introduce the body to faster running while at the same time preparing it for speed sessions in the upcoming cross country season. The timed intervals are longer at this point and done at a pace a little slower than current 5k race pace. The focus is still on building aerobic strength.

Example:
1.5 mile warm-up
5 x 2' x 3' (5 times 2 minutes hard by 3 minutes easy)
1.5 mile warm-down

After the warm-up, you go right into your first interval of 2 minutes. Once the 2 minutes is over, you run easy for 3 minutes. Once the 3 minutes are up, you start over with the next 2 minutes hard. The total miles for this workout will be anywhere from 6 to 8 miles, depending on your pace. You never stop running until you finish with the 1.5 mile warm-down.

2) Interval Phase Fartlek
There are times during cross country and track when you can't get to a place where there is a set aside area where you know the exact distance. There are also coaches who do not like to use tracks. In either instance, Fartlek can be used to mimic interval training. During such a Fartlek you will build aerobic strength by continuing to run throughout the workout, while at the same time build on you anaerobic capacity by running the intervals hard, as if you were on a track.

Example:
Each of these workout should have a 1 to 2 mile warm-up and warm-down.

20 x 20" x 40" (20 times 20 seconds hard by 40 seconds easy)
This Fartlek mimics doing 100 meter sprints

10 x 1' x 1' (10 times 1 minute hard by 1 minute easy)
This Fartlek mimics doing 300 meter to 400 meter intervals

5 x 2' x 3' (5 times 5 minutes hard by 3 minutes easy)
This Fartlek mimics doing 600 to 800 meter intervals

3) Maintenance Phase Fartlek
After cross country season the break until track is usually short. There is not much time to put in a base with three phases. In this case, Fartlek is started immediately during the winter base to maintain some of the speed you developed during the cross country season. The focus at this time of the year is building strength and endurance, so keep the intervals at a steady pace making sure to stay in an aerobic state.

Three Important Things To Remember:
1) The total time of the Fartlek is not important. Focus on running strong during the hard interval and running very easy during the easy interval. Running faster during the rest to get a fast overall time is defeating the purpose of the run.

2) The total distance of the run is not important. It doesn't matter how much distance you cover during the Fartlek. This is why they are not generally done on a track. If you are a miles junky and need to record your total distance for the day, just estimate based on pace how far you ran for the workout.

3) The main goal of a Fartlek should be to finish the entire workout. Therefore, it is wise to mainain a steady pace throughout the workout. If you run your first one or two intervals too hard, you will sacrifice the entire workout.

FARTLEK EXAMPLES:
2 x 10' x 5'
4 x 5' x 3'
6 x 3' x 2'
10 x 1' x 1'
20 x 20" x 40"

These are just examples. The amount of times you do the interval and how many you do can be varied to your liking. When you get in better shape, you can decrease the slow interval to allow for less rest, getting a better workout.

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