Mix up your running with Fartlek training
If you’re new to running or fancy a bit of variety in your current training programme, why not give Fartlek a try? This Swedish phrase meaning “speed play” involves the random interplay of different speeds. It’s an unstructured form of interval training where the total amount of work usually lasts around 30-40 minutes and incorporates sporadically varying intensities.
When I first started running seven years ago, I was unintentionally ’lekking for the first few months whilst building up my stamina. I started with treadmill intervals of varying speeds and inclines (which I still love to this day) and would set “mini goals”. These were as simple as setting a sprint target to a new landmark - be it a tree or lamp post - then having a brief recovery jog before repeating. Given my short attention span and aversion to distance running at the time, I found this approach to be much more fun. I also enjoyed the fact that I could see myself progressing as I hit a further landmark each week.
My favourite thing about this form of training is just how versatile it is - you can make it as hard as you like and do it outdoors using the local landscape or at the gym. You can incorporate it into circuits, walking/running programmes and group training, where each person takes it in turns to call the shots.
Next time you feel like a change of pace or mixing things up, try including some Farlek in your training.