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Tracie Skarbo was motivated to write by her father, who was her biggest supporter. “He was always behind me, rallying me on with my writing. I would always see him with a book in hand. He gave me a great appreciation for the written word, and the power and responsibility that writers have to shape those who read their words. He also taught me to respect nature and to value the beauty within it; my reflections on my environment are just an extension of this.” Skarbo was raised on Vancouver Island and is working on her next two books.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Laced Up Confessionals Part Seven

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.


  1. this same theory or similar is being used in other excercise as well correct. i seem to remember reading an article on shocking the muscle to stimulate it. do quite a bit of mountain climbing and hiking but never really been much of a runner. probably should work on that...

  2. Fartleks, eh. That's what I do, though I wouldn't say I'm competitive about it or that I'm vary fast. But I find it's more comfortable to run and then walk for a double distance. Funny it actually builds endurance, I just thought I was weak.

  3. running sounds like a science. How far do you go on each run?

  4. Brian, the theory is adaptable to many different sports for sure. Yes it is to shock your body into accepting different types of workouts and conditions.

    Writers Secret, it is more comfortable to run and then walk for a bit. I run in ten minute intervals and then break for a full minute before going on. It is encouraged in the running clinics to run these 10 in 1's as they call it. It has been proven that when you run a distance this way that you are no slower then someone who runs all the way through because you are less fatigued at the end of the run therefore you can keep a faster pace throughout the run. It protects you from less injuries, and stretches out your muscles after each set. Plus it gives you something to look forward to through the run, like little mini goals.

    Katley, it depends on the day as to how far I go, so far the furthest I have run is 10km, but I am hoping to double that by next year.

    Great questions! Thanks so much for coming by and taking the time to read! :)