Fartleks: tool of the devil


I’ll give your inner 14-year old a minute to giggle.

Ahem. Ready?

Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish. It’s a form of interval training, alternating high-intensity running with a recovery period. For example, run hard for 30 seconds, walk or jog 90 seconds, repeat. Add in hills and 102-degree heat, and I’m pretty sure fartlek really means from hell.

This week’s training session went like this: run one mile to where the coaches were waiting with water. Do fartleks for a 1.1-mile circuit that goes downhill, then around and back uphill. Fill up water bottle, drink half and dump half on your head, then fill it again. Run a recovery mile the second circuit. Repeat with the water. Then fartleks one more time, more water, and run back to the starting point. My Garmin said it was 5.54 miles, and I think I filled my water bottle seven times.

The marathon group training alongside us had to do 30-second runs with only a 30-second recovery. I guess I should be glad ours were 30-90. Thirty seconds is a damn long time when you’re thundering down the sidewalk, but it’s no time at all when you’re trying to catch your breath.

It was tough but not impossible. My inner 14-year-old might say these fartleks didn’t stink.

Go ahead. You know you want to laugh at that.


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