Running wild – Fartlek training When run…

Running wild – Fartlek training

When running many of us just go through the same old motions without actually thinking about what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Weight loss and running
The same can be said of people trying to lose weight. Of course long distance running burns lots of excess calories. But what if there was a running programme which incorporated workloads of varying degrees and speed, power performed on different terrain? Would they lose weight quicker? The answer is “Yes”, they would.

The origins of Fartlek training
This is where ‘Fartlek Training’ comes in. Fartlek training was developed in in 1930’s Sweden. The term ‘Fartlek’ when translated into English literally means ‘Speed Play’.

The principle idea behind a ‘Speed Play’ workout is that the athlete combines continuos training with interval training without actually structuring the complete programme. In it’s purest form Fartlek training will be performed without thinking about it. To coin a well known sports slogan, Fartlek performers don’t think, they “Just do it”.

The benefits of Fartlek training
The benefits of Fartlek training should, I hope, be apparent to you now. Continually running at one pace over and over again, workout after workout, will mean that performing at higher levels will be extremely hard work indeed.

Fartlek training will allow your mind and body to be accustomed to training at higher than normal levels. This in turn means you have the chance to greatly improve your aerobic and anaerobic systems and, if required, lose weight more effectively.

Fartlek training – The final word
We all understand the benefits of interval training. Well think of Fartlek training in the same way. However, unlike interval training, the work-rest intervals are not measure by time but how the body feels. For reason, Fartlek training can be used by all levels of athletes and runners, from complete beginners to advanced Olympic runners.

So today was Fartlek but I took along a pal and the idea was to run to the lake then do 2 circuits of 1min fast /  1 min slower – the first was a sprint and neither of us could finish …. in fact we almost threw up. After 1 lap he wanted to give up but i made him do another circuit before heading back. Next one should be easier.

Heart Rate Graph above shows this well.


With a group:

  • Free Form Fartlek Take turns deciding the next interval. The leader for each interval controls the pace, and the distance of that interval. Rotate around the group so each runner has a chance to do lead a couple of workouts.
  • Blind Fartlek: Everyone in the group is given a number, but everyone keeps their number secret. The runners go in order, trying to surprise the rest of the group as they start each interval and forcing the group to react to them.

Workouts alone or with a group:

  • Telephone Pole fartlek: One pole hard/ one pole easy; two hard/ two easy; three hard/ three easy; then repeat the cycle in reverse. You can repeat this set as many times as you can in, say, 20 minutes. To make the set even harder, shorten the recovery to one light post.
  • Timed fartleks: Run hard for a given time, recover for a specific time. For example, go hard for four minutes and then recover for four minutes. To make this set even harder, do the recovery pace at a steady training pace, ensuring that you never feel completely recovered as you start the next set. You can vary the times for this set depending on what part of the season you’re in. Early season you might want to do longer intervals of four to eight minutes, during the season you might want to shorten the interval and lengthen the recovery to work on your speed.
  • Distance fartlek: On a specific course, designate different parts as hard, and others as easy. You can make this as short as a loop around the park, or as long as an 8 mile run.
  • Five-minute drill: This is a great fartlek workout you can do on a track. More advance and elite competitors will try to finish a mile during this set. Start with 30 seconds of hard running, followed by 30 seconds of steady running. That’s followed by 15 seconds hard, with 15 seconds recovery. That cycle is repeated twice, then there’s one more 30 second hard interval with a 30 second recovery, followed by one last hard interval for one minute. If you don’t have a coach to come up with the workout, use your own imagination to develop some fun fartlek sessions.

Remember, it’s all about play, with some speed mixed into the translation, too.

Morning run

average pace 4:31 / km – brought down by that first km of 5min as I warmed up. Must practice fartleks to speed up.

Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a form of conditioning which puts stress mainly on the aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise. The difference between this type of training and continuous training is that the intensity or speed of the exercise varies, meaning that aerobic and anaerobic systems can be put under stress. Most fartlek sessions last a minimum of 45 minutes and can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting. Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise.

first run for a while

Back in Baghdad – went for a run with claire – pretty slow pace (maybe a half marathon on Sunday) and then also having to deal with mud after the recent rain.

She stopped near the end so had a small burst … but a bit boring the run and a lot of cars on the tracks and roads.

Garmin 405 update

Been using the 405 for a while now combination of running and MTB’ing and here are some thoughts.

If you are used to Garmin wrist GPS then this is an easy transition. I had the foretrex 201 (broke kitesurfing) and then a forerunner 205. I also used to use my Polar HRM then it seemed silly that I didn’t have one that did it all.

For kitesurfing and for strange woods the map function (breadcrumb type trails of the 201 and 205 were great) They let me find a 10m gap in a reef to avoid losing fins, let me take a shortcut to get back onto main track when I shagged my wheel and let me find my car once in a weird spooky wood where my internal compass went haywire.

Other than that this is better. Using it only as a HRM it doesn’t quite match something like the Polar where measurement is much more accurate and it measures virtual VO2 MAX thresholds and the like. Going to the gym and then trying to see data afterwards is nigh on impossible in the trailrunner software I am using as you cant import it without gps data.

(the trick around this is to start gps – do a quick 2sec record outside gym – press pause then go in and exercise – you can manually change distances later but it gives you decent HRM recording on screen)

Out on the trail running or biking you can set up different screens to show data you want – you can set 405 to autoscroll through the data if you want or lock it on one screen. The autostop feature I don’t use as I use autolap (every 1km) and when I stop I stop …… the first time I pressed stop and then after stretching I walked back few hundred metres to warm down and HRM started recording again …. threw my min/km pace reading way out.

Afterwards you can review data through History on watch or after download on program this is cool although calories burnt is a bit of an ignore feature as based on distance completely ignoring HRM data and personal stats (unlike Polar which is more accurate based on exertion)


quite comfortable – I found the 201 and 205 a wee bit more comfortable but after 500m I forgot it was on my wrist.

The Strap is good – as unnoticeable as the Polar strap. (EDITED 5/8/9 No where near as comfortable – I have to use sweatbands know to cushion the hard plastic as very sweaty in hot climes)


Lock the bezel if going in the shower as the light (which comes on when you press two fingers on the bezel) goes mad in the shower switching on and off ……. unless you want a disco in which case keep it unlocked.

new Garmin 405 and using trailrunner software on MAC

Got a Garmin 405 to replace older forerunner 205 gps and polar 625x Heart Rate monitor.

ALSO check out Trailrunner
Nice thing is being able to view training info on mac …. polar is crap on macs unless running windows or alt software. Still evaluating it but will buy it for sure I think – excellent freeware – CHECK IT OUT.

About TrailRunner
To boldly go where you haven’t been gone before
Although the TrailRunner is perfectly suitable for runners, bikers, inline-skaters and hikers, let’s focus on how this piece of software could totally change a runners habits.

Motivations for running
There might be several motivations you start running. Just to get fresh air several times a week, to loose weight or to exercise as a semi professional for races and honor. Either motivation needs goals you define in a training plan and methods to check up your progress, like measuring your burned calories and weight loss, your improved heart-rate, your speed and ranking in a competition or just being able to master a marathon in a given time.

To achive this, most people have like three standard routes they run over and over. Depending on your ambitions they might have distances like 10 kilometers, 13 and 20. It seems like the only goal you have is to accomplish your “training duty” — and the hardest part of it is to stand up, put your shoes on and just leave the house. But then what is the motivation all about? For that reason many people like to make appointments with workout-partners, run in groups or feel happy to watch (mostly pointless) statistics. But what, if you have the genes of an explorer and adventurer? Then your dream might be to spontaneously run say 16 kilometers in a well known and hand-picked collection of endless routes you could choose from.

This is where the TrailRunner could meet you and your motivation, with the potential to totally change your habits with one simple addition: You look forward to run the route you have affectionately crafted for this sunday morning: Imagine you take your car, drive into the woods, run through the small valley with the dabbling stream, head up the hill, enjoy the brilliant view, speed down your favorite single trail, cross the big water meadow and return to the parking place. This all with one important background: Your training plan decided on you that you have to run 16 kilometers today. And you did.

Exploring new routes
So how will one get to the point where choosing a route is like to click your fingers? It starts with the three standard routes you already know. As soon as you have inserted them in into the TrailRunner you will start exploring: While you’re running, you notice this small very nice looking alleyway on the right, that you where always wondering about where this might lead to. You just add it to your TrailRunner map and next time you insert this piece of track into your route. That must not add any kilometers, as you could choose a shortcut somewhere else instead. After a while you will notice that you start adding more and more loops and long ways round that will give you an endless choice of nice alternatives.

Standard routes with tentacle-like alternatives means that extending and expanding an existing route is very easy. You just take an old route and tell the TrailRunner to adjust this route to a variation that is almost the same but 2 kilometers longer. The finer your weaved web of tracks is the better this will work.