What is the difference between a fartlek and an interval run?
The word fartlek comes from the Swedish word for “speed play” and that is just what a fartlek is – playing with speed. However, unlike interval runs fartleks are not structured. For example: interval runs may be structured in miles or in minutes and usually have a set goal pace. Fartleks on the other hand are unstructured periods of easy effort with moderate/hard efforts mixed throughout.
In a fartlek run instead of being tied to your watch, watching the minutes or miles like you would be in an interval run, you are working moderate/hard efforts in sporadically throughout your run. For example: instead of having a set interval in a fartlek you might run hard to the next mailbox, stop sign, etc. You are playing with your speed in an unstructured way.
What might fartlek runs look like in my plan?
Fartlek Run – half mile warm up walk, dynamic stretches, 5 mile run – half mile warm up at conversation pace, 4 miles of a fartlek neighborhood run – pick up the speed with a decent push to the next mailbox, jog slowly past 2 mailboxes, sprint/all out run to the next mailbox, jog slowly past 3 mailboxes, and continuing repeating with the push, jog, sprint, jog pattern, then half mile easy jog recovery, half mile cool down walk, more stretches
What are the benefits of fartlek runs? –
Fartlek runs are lower stress than most runs since they are unstructured and have no set pace goal. They are a great way to get a fabulous run in without the stress of hitting a time goal. Fartlek runs teach you to push yourself and dig deep for that speed and because of that they can help you to grow and become a faster runner with better stamina which can also improve your self-confidence.
Let me know –
Do you do any type of speed work?
Have you run fartlek runs before? -or- Are you doing them currently?
Do you prefer fartlek runs (unstructured) or interval runs (structured)?
Feel like this is a lot to take in? You can always hire a professional running coach (make sure you pick someone who is certified) as they will set up your plan for you taking all these factors into account. You can visit my run coaching services page to learn more about coaching.