What is a fartlek and how to perform it

The generalization of fartlek is due to the desire of runners to train more and more intensely. Initially, in the main layouts of the fartlek method, the place was exclusively rough terrain, where the ground surface is soft and elastic. Fatigue when running on soft ground comes later. The likelihood of muscle contractures and inflammation of the joints, ligaments and periosteum is reduced. In addition, running on the ground is very emotional, accustoms the runner to independence, a creative approach to training.

Subsequently, there were many variations of fartlek, and it partially “migrated” from the forest to the stadium. Experts recommend performing a fartlek in the woods, not dismissing the possibility of using this tool on a treadmill or highway. Near some stadiums you can find a path heavily littered with sawdust, you know – this is a good alternative to a crossroads, and here you can do your chosen job with a shift.

Develop endurance with the Fartlek

Fartlek sessions can be long or short, light or hard, depending on what goal you set for this workout. All the principles that apply to work at regular intervals apply to fartlek. The difference is that during fartlek, running alternations at a lower pace than IPC pace can also be added.

For example, an athlete performs an interval at the CPI level, i.e. almost at maximum heart rate, then a standard rest in the form of a slow run, after which he proceeds to a short interval at a threshold rate. In certain sections of the distance, an oxygen debt is formed, which must then be repaid in the next section of the distance. Hence the conclusion that the average pace of the entire training according to the fartlek method should not take place in the red zone.

The main quality that develops with this method is general endurance. Endurance is a measure of the body’s ability to resist fatigue. In the theory of physical culture, a distinction is made between general endurance and special endurance. In the scientific literature, general endurance is understood as: “the capacity to provide muscular efforts of relatively low intensity for a long period of time.

From a sports theory perspective, general endurance is an athlete’s ability to perform various types of relatively low-intensity physical exercise for a long period of time, involving many muscle groups in the work. In another way, it is also called aerobic endurance. Under the influence of training, aerobic performance indicators increase quite rapidly.

The biological basis of general endurance is the aerobic capacity of the athlete’s body. The main indicator of aerobic capacity is the maximum oxygen consumption (MOC), l / min. The more oxygen an athlete can consume per unit time, the more energy he can produce and, therefore, the more work to do.

What is a fartlek and how to perform it

Studies have established that “there is a linear relationship between heart rate, maximal oxygen consumption, running speed, working power and cardiac output. With a heart rate of 130-160 beats/min, the energy supply of the runner’s body occurs mainly through aerobic processes. With a pulse of 160-190 beats / min, both anaerobic and aerobic processes are enhanced. At a higher heart rate, we are already dealing with anaerobic processes.

In Soviet times, eminent experts wrote that the fartlek was used at all stages of the annual cycle by experienced and skilled runners of all specializations only once a week. But at present, we can meet well-known fartlek athletes in the weekly plans for 2-3 times a week.

Some consider that this type of training is not systematic. But you need to understand that it has specific properties. Like other types of training, it requires the same careful thought. At one time, trainers interpreted fartlek in different ways, hence the appearance of a large number of its varieties.

Training a distance runner is a multi-faceted process. It includes physical, technical and voluntary training. The purpose of special training is to maximize the development of the athlete’s endurance in accordance with the requirements of the distance for which he is preparing. The endurance criterion is the runner’s ability to maintain the optimal frequency and stride length for as long as possible. Hence the notions of speed and strength endurance. If the runner’s step rate decreases, it means he has insufficient speed endurance, if the step length decreases, it means he has insufficient strength endurance.

The difference between fartlek and classic interval training

Recreational runners often confuse interval training with fartlek training. Many coaches will tell you that unlike tempo and interval training, fartlek doesn’t have a clear plan: throughout it, you alternate between medium and hard work with light recovery. Fartlek, at first glance, is not systematic, but if you approach this training method from a scientific point of view, it turns out that this “unsystematic” actually has a logical sequence.

Unlike tempo training, in interval training you run at the limit of your strength, “popping your eyes out over your forehead and curling your tongue around your neck.” These intervals are followed by recovery sections where you run at a much lower heart rate. One of the characteristics of fartlek is that, despite all its energy consumption, it still does not have the character of high-intensity training and is performed in a psychologically relaxed state. Short intense intervals alternate with the same, or slightly longer, recovery running segments.

The whole point of the fartlek training method is to restore and not to use maximum power when switching to running at a higher speed (60-80% HRmax). Additionally, to improve results and prevent injury, it is imperative to include sufficient warm-up and cool-down in the program.

Common Load Types

There are five main specific running loads that form the basis of special training for runners. According to the intensity, they can be classified in the following order:

  • light fartlek (“light up” for 20-60 seconds);
  • cross-country running (large fluctuations in heart rate are acceptable on short, steep climbs);
  • long fast stroke (work at almost competitive speed);
  • fartlek (for intermediate athletes up to 1.5 hours; for trained marathon runners up to 2.5 hours);
  • tempo run (maintenance of the set running speed, min/km).

The peculiarity of using the fartlek is that a predetermined number of “fast” segments are performed in each workout. However, if at the beginning of the annual cycle this number of segments is performed during a race lasting no more than one and a half hours, then during the competition period the entire set is “made” in 15-20 minutes. It is important to remember that the set, duration and intensity of the segments depend on the training tasks, qualifications, seniority and age.

How to perform the fartlek

Example 1

After warming up, without stopping, you immediately run for 2 minutes at 80-85% of the maximum, then 4-5 minutes at the speed at which you usually run cross-country (at this time restore breathing), then change gears again for the same two minutes at the same intensity and back again to cross-country speed.

Example 2

On the ground, various forms of repeated and variable running can be used. Here is how a fartlek workout can be structured:

  • slow run 5-10 minutes (warm-up);
  • uniform and intense running 1-2 km;
  • jog 5 minutes;
  • slow running with accelerations of 50-60 m to slight fatigue;
  • run at full power to climb 150-200 m and run at high speed for 1 minute.

Example 3

In the United States, coaches practice fartlek using accelerations of different speeds and lengths in a certain order:

  • springs 40-50 m with an intensity of 90%, after which – jogging 50-100 m;
  • jogging at a competitive pace on segments of 200-300 m;
  • acceleration from 30 to 40 m with the maximum possible speed;
  • jogging at a competitive speed in segments of 200-300 m. Acceleration is carried out in the context of running at medium speed.

Example 4

In our country, many well-known specialists, having selected the most rational from the experience accumulated in different countries, conduct training using fartlek according to the following scheme.

November-January: long fartleks, lasting up to an hour and a half. Against the background of a medium-speed run, long interval runs at a near-competitive speed of 300-1000 m, then immediately – easy run for 15-20 minutes.

February-May: small fartleks, up to 50 min. Running with periodic light accelerations (10 repetitions of 100-150 m), against the background of running at medium speed. Followed by an easy run for 10-15 minutes.

June-September: during the race lasting 15 to 30 minutes. with near-competitive speed, accelerations are carried out at maximum speed in segments up to 100 m. Fartlek of this type well simulates the conditions of competitive activity and is a very effective means of training.

It is not recommended to perform intensive loads if the athlete:

  • has racing experience of less than six months and at the same time does not have many years of experience in other cyclical sports;
  • runs less than 40 km per week;
  • cannot participate in a 10 km race faster than a daily 5 km race;
  • susceptible to injury during strenuous exercise.

In order to achieve the desired effect and reduce the risk of overtraining, any training should be tailored to the individual characteristics and abilities of a particular person. If you are an amateur athlete, try to include a fartlek in your training process at least once every two weeks. For advanced amateurs, this type of training can be used 1-2 times a week.