You have ran a few races and figured out your comfortable pace, but how do you continue to increase that pace? Training and building up your endurance will naturally make you a faster runner, but there are ways to improve even more. That is where speed work comes in!

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There are many different types of speed work out there for runners, and I will be focusing on a few different types on separate posts, but today I want to talk about Fartlek workouts. Doesn’t reading that word make you curious about what the heck I am talking about? Haha

The word Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play” (source). Fartlek work is great because it an unstructured form of speed work that combines interval training with continuous training. It can help prepare you to push yourself through those unexpected rough patches during a race, and it will also help you increase your overall comfortable pace so you can go faster!

During fartlek work, you are not aiming for a specific pace, you are more going off of how you feel. You want to be able to feel that you are pushing yourself, but the actual pace you are hitting may be different every time you do it. If you feel tired and like you got an amazing workout after, you are doing it right :).

Here is a fartlek workout that I think is a good starting point to follow. This workout is from Active.com

Descending Tempo Fartlek 
To do this workout, you will be doing a timed piece followed by a recovery piece, which will be for half the time of your harder piece (it makes sense, just stay with me here). Recovery means you are at your comfortable pace.

  • Start with a 6 minute run at just above your comfortable pace (half-marathon pace)
  • 3 minute recovery run (your comfortable pace)
  • Run 5 minutes slightly faster than your 6 minute run
  • 2:30 minute recovery
  • Run 4 minutes just faster than your 5 minute run
  • 2 minute recovery run
  • Run 3 minute pick-up run (you should almost be at your top speed)
  • 1:30 minute recovery run
  • Run 2 minute pick-up run (you should be sprinting)
  • 1 minute recovery run
  • Finish with a 1 minute pick-up-give it everything you have!

If you want more time, you can start with a 7:00 run and work down from there, or you can always repeat the entire interval :).

I hope you enjoy this workout!