Fartlek Training [Updated 2022]


artlek Training

Fartlek was invented in Sweden in the 1930s and loosely translates as “speed play,” is a variable-pace workout where you work out according to how you feel. It alternates between slower and quicker speeds, is essentially unstructured interval training. Workouts can mix easy running, hill reps, and even T-pace bouts into a single session.

The idea is to act without hesitation on whatever comes to mind. You can train for speed at your own pace. This unrestricted run is done for an endless amount of time and distance. Your instinct, if you will, determines the intensity, tempo, and length of the intervals. It can be the easiest or the hardest exercise you’ve done all week.

And used for a range of various cardiovascular exercises, including cycling, rowing, and swimming. It is most frequently linked with running (Fartlek Training Guide | How to Do Fartlek Running Workouts).

If a fartlek workout is planned as an easy day don’t let it become a hard day.

Fartlek Training Benefits

  1. It is entertaining, liberating, and invigorating and can break up the monotony or boring of other workouts.
  2. It has a “feel-good element,” which contributes to boosting self-esteem and making jogging more enjoyable.
    increases endurance and speed.
  3. Fartlek puts a strain on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems because of its continuous nature and changing intensity.
  4. Fartlek training most likely also increases lactate threshold, enhances fuel use, and improves running economy, despite the paucity of research in this area.
  5. a more organic, progressive way to include more strenuous running into your training.
    since it forces you to keep an eye on your effort, it helps you become more in tune with your body.
  6. compared to interval exercise, may be linked to fewer injuries. Fartlek and interval training appears to work best together to improve outcomes and lower injury risk.
  7. Fartlek training’s randomness and lack of structure can assist athletes to overcome physical and psychological difficulties while adjusting to pace fluctuations during competitions.

(Guide | How to Do Fartlek Running Workouts).


Fartlek Training Session Example

Fartlek for Runners. The following is a selection of fartlek sessions from British Athletics Coach Brian Mackenzie’s Website.

Watson Fartlek

Suitable for 10k, 5k, 3k, and cross country.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Stride hard for 4 minutes with a 1-minute jog recovery – repeat eight times
  • 10-minute cool-down

Saltin Fartlek

Suitable for 1500m, 5k, and 3k.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Repeat six times – Stride hard for 3 minutes with a 1-minute jog run recovery
  • 10-minute cool-down


Astrand Fartlek

Suitable for 800m.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Repeat three times – Maximum effort for 75 seconds, 150 seconds jog/run, a maximum effort for 60 seconds, 120 seconds jog run.
  • 10-minute cool-down

Gerschler Fartlek

Suitable for getting fit quickly when combined with steady running.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Repeat 3 times – Stride hard for 30 seconds, jog for 90 seconds. Repeat with 15 second decreases in recovery jog e.g. 30-90, 30-75, 30-60, 30-45, 30-30, 30-15 and 30-15-30
  • 10-minute cool-down

Hill Fartlek

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Select a 2-mile hilly course. Repeat three times – Run hard up all hills twice before moving to the next hill, jog, run between hills
  • 10-minute cool-down


Whistle Fartlek

Using a whistle, the coach controls the session over an 800 meters circumference grass area.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • When the whistle is blown, the athletes run hard until the whistle is blown again. Pyramid session of 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes with a 60-second jog run recovery between each run
  • 10-minute cool-down

Fartlek for games players

A fartlek session for games players should include sprinting, running, jogging, and walking with variations in the direction of movement to fit in with the demands of their sport. It should involve controlling an object (e.g. football) or carrying any implement (e.g. hockey stick, rugby ball) used in the sport (Mackenzie).

What’s the Difference between Fartlek and Interval training?

There are no set intervals to increase or reduce the intensity during Fartlek training since, unlike interval training, it is not time specific.

Football players, for instance, engage in Fartlek running. Whereas sometimes they rush at full speed to grab the football, other times they simply maintain a comfortable pace at the designated spot on the pitch.

What sports use fartlek?

 I believe fartlek concepts could be applied to any sport demanding prolonged exertion over a distance, like cycling, rowing, or swimming. Fartlek’s Wikipedia entry gives the example of utilizing it to prepare for basketball, which may fast transition from a standstill to a full run.



Fartlek Training Guide | How to Do Fartlek Running Workouts. 28 Sept. 2015, https://wellnessed.com/fartlek-training/.

Mackenzie, Brian. Fartlek Training. https://www.brianmac.co.uk/fartlek.htm. Accessed 29 Aug. 2022.





Categories: 05. Training
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