Fartlek - A Slice of Swedish Speed Play?
Fartlek training, Swedish meaning 'speed play', it sounds cool hey! This is another form of workout that may just help to spice up your training if you are getting bored, hitting a plateau or finding it hard to shift the last few stubborn pounds.
Fartlek is a mix of continuous steady state training mixed with intervals of various intensity. It is a great training approach which helps to improve both aerobic (also known as cardio exercise where the body requires oxygen for the muscles) and anaerobic (short lasting activity where your body's demand for oxygen exceeds the supply so it cannot be sustained) fitness.
You "play" at different distances, times and speeds during the workout rather than completing a preplanned interval session for a set time, speed or distance. For example, you may go for a run outside and jog for 10 minutes to warm up, then run at 70% for 3 minutes, jog at 40% for 1 minute then sprint at 100% for 30 seconds and then run at 50% for 5 minutes and so on.
An alternative is to ditch the watch and run between things like trees or lampposts, sprinting to the first lamppost, then jogging until you hit the forth and then sprinting again to the next lamppost and so on. Music is also good to use, you can speed up to a beat of a song or in the chorus and then slow down when the chorus finishes or mix your music so you have fast and slower songs which help you to pick up the pace and then recover.
I love this type of training and as it doesn't take any pre-planning, it's great for a last minute session and to get the most out of a run or a cycle, making it more exciting!