# Fartlek Running!

By Lifeasarunningmom @RunningMom6
Yesterday morning my run was fun and after a few minutes into it I realized essentially, I was running a fartlek on the treadmill. It makes sense that this then turns into a post about fartlek running.
What exactly is a fartlek? In Swedish it means "speed play" but it isn't the same as intervals. Intervals are way more structured. You can read more about them HERE. In fartleks you move between bouts of faster and slower running without the pressure of hitting x-paces for x-duration. If you are doing that, you are moving towards interval training. Think of a fartlek as this concept - you see a mailbox ahead and say, "Okay, I am going to pick up my pace until I get to that mailbox!". You do, you ease up again and pick your next landmark.
Now how on Earth did I manage that on a treadmill? Easy. And perhaps a bit confusing. Fartleks can be completely unstructured (the mailbox example), a bit more structured (I am going to get into that soon), or a mix of the two. For the structured fartleks you may use minutes instead of landmarks and I say go this route if the landmark, unstructured way, doesn't fit. And play with the minutes, or in my case yesterday, the distance.
To give you an example, I started my run with the treadmill at 6.2. After 0.5 miles I picked up the pace to 6.6 for half a mile. I returned to 6.2 for half a mile. I then went to 7.5 for half a mile and back down to 6.2 for half a mile. If you know intervals you can see this is not running intervals as my speed is going all over the place. There isn't enough structure to be intervals. I switched the pace to 6.6 and ran a mile and brought it down to 6.2 for half a mile. Then it was increase by 0.1 each 0.1 miles to get me another half mile, I repeated the top pace another 0.1 miles and followed the ladder back down and did a half mile at 6.2. Then I got really sporadic with the speed and can't remember point for point what I did but I think you can get the general picture. I ended up running 6.5 miles with an average pace of 9'17". It had areas of work where my heart rate got up there and areas of recovery. It was a fartlek.

Why run fartleks? One, they are fun! But there are other benefits. Fartlek running trains your cardiovascular and muscular systems in oxygen absorption, delivery, and utilization. They improve your endurance at lower muscle stress. They teach you patience during low grade discomfort. Yes, I can do this for just two minutes. I am tired but I can handle two minutes. And they improve your strength, running form, and decrease the chance of injury if done properly.
Who should run fartleks? All types of runners! It is a great way to introduce new runners and run/walkers into faster running. And for those experienced runners, it still lets you work on strength, your mental toughness, and may bring back some of the fun in running during an intense training cycle.
And yes, for me, yesterday's run was indeed fun and hard work. I hit a training pace I hadn't touched in awhile and worked some at my GMP (goal marathon pace). It was a great workout!
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for health insurance. I know this may be a touchy subject for some but yes, I am thankful for health insurance.
Daily Affirmation: I can see my weaknesses and admit them. This makes me stronger and more honest.