Fartlek Running Is All About Listening to Your Body — Give It a Try With These Tips

Fitness

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Treadmills make running convenient — even more so when you’ve got a machine in your home and bad weather is threatening your workout schedule. It’s also true that running on a treadmill can be a little boring, especially if you’re the type of person that finds running monotonous.

But, introducing interval training, like fartlek training, into your running sessions can help spice things up. Another bonus? According to Danny Mackey, the head coach for the Brooks Beasts Elite Pro Track Team, fartlek training — meaning “speed play” in Swedish — can be used at any point in your training, no matter your goal.

“Fartlek is a form of interval training, but the beauty of a fartlek is the workout is effort based and you do not need a track, or a known distance,” Mackey said. “So you can vary the intervals to something like eight sets of 1-minute hard, then 2-minutes easy.”

You can also pick any time interval for the faster running portion and any time interval for the easy running portion, Mackey said — the workout should just be continuous. (But, if you do need to stop for any reason, definitely do so!)

“When you are just starting to get into shape, [fartlek training] is great because you will not push yourself too hard given the intervals are the effort driver.” You’ll want to listen to your body here, because it’s what dictates the pace you pick — in other words, you don’t have to stick with a specific speed or cover a certain distance.

As for some fartlek rules of thumb: Mackey said to start the first repetition at an intensity that you know you can also finish the workout at. “And, from there, you can build into the quicker paces as you are more warmed up.”

Mackey also shared a beginner fartlek idea to get you started. Start with a five-to-seven minute slow warmup run and finish with a five-to-seven minute cooldown run. While the “easy” intervals are noted, always modify and take rest periods as needed.

Fartlek Interval Workout:

  • 2-minutes hard, 1-minute easy
  • 1-minute hard, 1-minute easy
  • 30 seconds hard, 2-minutes easy
  • Repeat the above circuits three times

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