February 14, 2019
Setting out to be on the treadmill for a flat amount of time, say 30 minutes at a steady pace, can be challenging when it feels like you’ve been running forever, but the treadmill’s timer is just creeping along.
Fortunately, there’s a way to break up your runs into bite-sized chunks that make it feel more approachable than the 30-minute alternative, and it has a funny name – fartleks, also known as the 5-4-3-2-1 method.
Fartlek is Swedish for "speed play," according to Runner's World, which perfectly describes what this run is all about. Unlike other types of runs (and there are surprisingly many), fartlek is fairly unstructured and switches between moderate to hard runs with easy jaunts sprinkled in throughout, according to Runner’s World.
After a warm-up, runners start out with longer intervals and work their way down the time blocks (5 minutes, 5 minutes; 4 minutes, 4 minutes; 3 minutes, 3 minutes; 2 minutes, 2 minutes; 1 minute, 1 minute), increasing the speed all the while, according to Well and Good. By the end, you’ll be surely be exerting harder, but it’ll (hopefully) feel easier since you’ll only be holding that sprint for, say, one minute, the website explained.
This type of training is a great tool that can help runners develop awareness of their abilities and utilize their different energy systems, according to ACTIVE, noting that fartleks give runners the freedom to customize their workouts to be whatever they want. As for frequency, it’s suggested to incorporate fartlek training at least once every two weeks.
Well and Good provides this sample fartlek workout plan:
5 minutes: Active Recovery (at about 65 percent of your maximum effort level)
5 minutes: Threshold Pace (at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart-rate)
4 minutes: Active Recovery
4 minutes: Threshold Pace (increase slightly from last threshold interval)
3 minutes: Active Recovery
3 minutes: Threshold Pace (increase slightly from last threshold interval)
2 minutes: Active Recovery
2 minutes: Threshold Pace (increase slightly from last threshold interval)
1 minutes: Active Recovery
1 minutes: Threshold Pace (increase slightly from last threshold interval)
There are plenty of other fartlek examples all over the internet. For example, this runner’s website has a fartlek training plan for everything from a 5K to a marathon.