So the other day’s topic of discussion was Fartlek speed bursts. The first time I heard the term “Fartlek” in a clinic I almost burst out laughing, (sounds like Fart Lick) and all I could think about was some poor guy with this last name going through life.
In reality though Fartlek is a Swedish term that means “speed play”, it is a form of interval speed training for runners.
When Fartlek training a runner will run hard for bursts of 30 seconds to a minute and then double the amount of cool down time at an easy pace. This is repeated for a set of ten and can vary in length due to the runners needs. You can use them on all different types of terrain or in hill training. If a runner incorporates these into their weekly regimen they are sure to see a reduction in their race times.
Other ways of increasing speed are shortening your strides and quickening them up. When I want to do this I imagine that I am on hot asphalt in bare feet, and that always gets me moving at a quicker pace.
Tempo runs are another great way to get some new speed out of routine runs. These are interval runs like the Fartleks, but they are for longer periods of time, and not as fast. Instead of running at top speed, you would just bring it up a notch or two, and hold them for longer periods of two to three minutes then recover and repeat.
You won’t achieve great speed by only training for strength. Speed is not determined by just how strong your muscles are but also by how they react. What you fuel up with, how you cross-train and if you have skipped any workouts will become a factor as well. Jump rope, skipping skills and box jumping are good drills to work on, if your knees can bear it try running up steps, or running steeper grade hills.
The best way to bring your endurance up is to be consistent, be patient, build up slowly and above all listen to your body. Don’t try to do too much too fast, that is only a recipe for future injury or the best way to become dissatisfied with your performance and perhaps with running in general. Increase one of your runs to a longer run then the other two for the week, so you have an easy day, one a little longer and perhaps with some hill training, then a slower longer run for the third in the week. Try mixing them up and listening to how your body feels and responds to the runs, if you are getting side stitches you are going too fast and your body is not able to respond or recuperate fast enough. LISTEN to what it is saying slow down a bit and see if you can run through it, stretch away from the stitch to lengthen your diaphragm, if this doesn’t work after a couple moments take a minute to walk it out before starting your pace again.
Stay strong, healthy but most of all have fun, it is the best way to keep your soles on the blacktop.