They’re also a great exercise to cover more distance in less overall time than if you were to go out and run at a consistent pace. Time efficient + no brainer = happy Abby. Seriously, when I run at 5/6am, the last thing I want to do is make it complicated and laborious.
But there IS one small little key to fartlek running that makes it effective and not just a bunch of random pickups. That key is your recovery pace.
And the key to that pace is that it’s NOT a “recovery pace”. Rather, the pace between your speed intervals should be about 7/10. Comfortably fast, I like to call it.
Fartlek runs are about working hard through fatigue without full recovery between sets. So, you sufficiently warm up and commit to an interval distance or time and race that interval at 5K pace. And that’s not so hard for, say, 200 meters.
The key is that when you slow down, you don’t slow waaaaay down. I tend to slow myself down by about 60-80 seconds or 7/10 pace, which is usually half-marathon pace for me so I make sure I’m still cranking out the numbers between sets.
I recover-ish. It doesn’t seem hard at first, but just you wait.
The difficult part isn’t kicking up the sprint, it’s maintaining the off pace.
So next time you’re short on time but need to get some quality miles in–or you just have no brain for your workout, hit up a fartlek workout. But make it a GOOD fartlek workout and keep that recovery pace in your half-marathon racing range.
Otherwise, you’re a lazy fartlek-er.
Now go out and run!