What is the definition of "fartleks" no rude answers please image

I have read they are short bursts of sprinting incorporated in to a run.  I have today done a 7 mile run & done 4 approx 100 meter flat out sprints in the latter part of the run when I was fully warmed up.

What are the benifits of doing this, is it similar to interval training as in decreasing recovery time? Am I doing it right or do I need to increase the amount of sprints? 


  • I think they are "strides" Peter. Fartlek literally means "speed play" - it's not always short bursts of speed. So you may sprint flat out between 2 lampost distances 6 times, or run at 70% effort up a hill, or jog for 3 mins, or incoporate 2 miles at 5K pace followed by a mile at an easy pace - it just means "playing" with your pace. To me a fartlek session is the whole session - I'd warm up for half a mile, do, I don't know.... 5 miles for example of fartlek - incorporating different distances of speed, hills and at varying speeds then a half a mile cool down. That is my understanding....
  • Thanks for that t l, sounds like hard work that! 

    Sure its good for overall running performance & endurance though!!

  • As Tigerlily says, it means "speedplay" so it's whatever you want it to be. Sprints between lampposts, regular intervals, anything that involves changing speed. TBH as an instruction on a training plan it's not much use because of the vague definition but it is a good way to introduce speed work.
  • thanks  both image
  • Fartlek efforts increase in distance and shorten recovery the fitter you get. Thats the theory !

     eg 3 Lamp Posts with 3 recovery ,gradually rising to say 6 in distance with 3 recovery. Then do 5 with 2 recovery and inncrease till you are doing 6 with 2 recovery.

    Watch for the distance of lamp posts thoughimage

  • Fartleks are basically less structured interval sessions, which makes them easy to 'cheat' on as you don't usually have a set time or distance to run at a higher intensity. Fartleks work well when you're running in a group and each person takes it in turn to set the pace and decide when you're all speeding up and slowing down. Means you don't have the option of slowing down when you start to feel fatigued and telling yourself it's all part of the session!
  • Have to suggest this to my running club, sounds more fun than the structured interval sessions!  image
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