Thursday, 22 March 2012

My Favourite Running Workout: The Fartlek

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Right up front I’d just like to say that, despite the title, this post does not have anything to do with pelvic floor muscles J

When I first began running I was just happy that I could actually run…1 km, then 5km, then 10km without stopping!! I didn’t really care how fast I was running until I entered my first fun run and that familiar competitive urge kicked in…not to win mind you. No, I’d never even entertain that notion…It was more like I was terrified that I’d finish dead last and my poor embarrassed kids would disown me!

After quite a lot of reading around the subject thanks to my addiction to running magazines and websites, I decided to try a Fartlek session. This is where, as you run along, you decide to torture yourself completely by choosing an object such as a tree, or light pole in the distance and try and run faster than you are currently running until you reach that object! It’s not sprinting…just opening up a little and increasing the pace. The distance can vary depending on how game you are feeling….I aimed for abut 200m or so at the beginning, increasing to about 500m now.

The first time I tried this it felt fantastic…I almost felt like a kid again to be stretching out and running faster…rather than my usual plodding!...that is until I finally reached my goal and slowed down again….I was sucking in that precious air so hard I thought my legs were going to burst!!

I have since worked my way up to doing 4 fartleks on my usual 5km running circuit. I do this fartlek session once a week in my training program. Sometime I wonder what the car drivers, on their mad rush to work in the morning think when they look at me over their juggled coffees, barely able to breath ….I wonder how far their fingers are away from dialing ‘000’on their iphones!

I really love doing this workout though. I love the feeling of running fast. I know that getting my heart rate up even higher, just for a little while has benefits for my fitness levels and my metabolism. I’m sure the sessions have paid off in that I know that I can run faster, at least for a shorter time. Sometimes I wonder if I keep increasing the number of fartleks, then I can string them all together and run really fast !! (OK, not really fast…but a bit faster anyway!).

There is no denying that they are hard work though! Sometimes I admit, I just lack the will power to complete them….and I find the best way for me, is to do them without thinking about it too much…because if I thought about it, I’d talk myself out of it!

I think these fartlek sessions should only be attempted once you have a solid base of  running to prevent injury. Also a little word of warning…although I did say this post was not about my pelvic floor, I lied. running faster (especially down hill) seems to be a bit of a ‘trigger’ for my muscles to stop working!! I find it’s best to run protected ;)

For Fitness Friday, I'm linking this post up with Kate Says Stuff. If you need support or motivation for your exercise and fitness journey...come along and be inspired by some other bloggers here!

21 comments:

  1. Fartlek sessions always instill the fear of God in me - I remember them from rowing training at uni - Need. More. Air! Well done for making them a regular part of your training. Have a great week

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    1. Thanks Chantel! I'll admit that the best part of doing fartleks is having done them!!....it feels good when it's over!

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  2. Ah thinking is dangerous when it comes to running I have discovered!

    One day when I conquer the 5k at my little jog (I did 3k straight this morning for the first time ever! YES!) I might try these fartleks of death. I might I might :)

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  3. OH MY GOD FARTLEK. I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns.

    But I love the outcome. Well done you for doing it of your own free will, and without a coach "encouraging" you! God knows I wouldn't.

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    1. You are so right!! It is hard!! ....but I like the outcome too...it seems like a good idea when I'm setting up my training plan... until the morning of my run that is :)

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  4. Wonder where the name came from? I find I am doing this almost without thinking now - once the adrenaline kicks in at about the 2K mark I just floor it until my body tells me to slow down (usually not too far!)

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    1. It is an unfortunate name isn't it :)

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  5. Fantastic! I admire runners, especially those who do the fartlek stuff, way out of my comfort zone.

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    1. Thanks Nat!...it actually sounds more impressive than it actually is....it's just running a little faster for a bit :)

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  6. We are the opposite. I dread Fartleks because I do the, on a treadmill. Maybe that's my problem? Nextw eek I'll do them outdoors.

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    1. ...that's the trick! keep telling yourself you love fartleks....

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  7. I really do love fartleks! I think because I used to have to walk a loooong way home from my bus stop after school when I was a kid and I would basically fartlek for fun all the way home, just to get there faster and keep myself from a long boring walk ;)

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    1. Thanks Tracy...that's what I love about fartleks! They are just so natural...you run based on how you feel...just trying to make it to a randomly selected point...It does just feel like being a kid again!

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  8. Oh my - I tried fartleks today and I honestly thought I was going to puke - I did four of them and after the initial buzz of the first one - I was cringing at the thought of the next. They really take a lot out of you but they must be good for you right? Now Im scared to try them again. Great work on your running - you are a champ!

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    1. Wow! Great job on the fartleks!! They do get easier ...really!...if you feel like trying them again!!

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  9. Oh my - I did four of these today and I thought I was going to throw up. the first one was a buzz but I dreaded the 2nd 3rd and 4th. Good on you for your commitment to your running - you are a machine.

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  10. I'm going to try this on my run tonight. I'm a slow runner so this would be a good challenge for me. Thanks!

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  11. I've been running for 37 years and the Fartlek solution, which doesn't really have an alternative name over here, is excellent exercise. But a word of warning. Make sure you are warm first. Do not do it cold or you could find yourself with, what we call in the UK, Policeman's Foot, which is where the ligaments are torn from the foot. It takes months to heal.

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    1. Thanks Roger! That's great advice. I usually don't do the first fartlek until I'm a couple of km's into the run. I also have to do a warm-up first...it's a superstitious thing!

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