In my previous post, I discussed how marathoners and half marathoners alike can benefit from speed training. Today, I’m sharing a type of workout that long distance runners can use to develop speed – a short interval fartlek.
This particular workout has been a tried-and-true favorite for me both as a coach and a runner. This short interval fartlek run increases your VO2max and running economy – essentially, it trains you to run fast. Short intervals are particularly beneficial because of how they improve your leg speed; for long distance runners, they offer an opportunity to run much faster than you do in normal training runs.
Yet for distance runners venturing into speed training, this workout isn’t intimidating due to the short duration of the intervals. Even when you are running at a challenging pace, one minute is mentally manageable. You can do this workout anywhere – track, roads, or trails.
The true beauty of this workout rests in its versatility – you can do this short interval fartlek run at various points throughout a training cycle. The relatively low volume and focus on effort makes this a valuable workout for transitioning from base building to hard training. Since it’s not as demanding as longer repeats at 5K pace, you can use it during high-volume periods of training later in the season to inject a bit of speed into your legs.
For experienced runners, this workout can be done during the off-season/base building season to maintain speed and add variety. You can do it in the summer humidity or at the indoor track in winter (or, if you’re really adventurous, even outdoors in winter), since the intervals are manageably short.
This workout scales based on level of experience. For beginners, the short interval fartlek serves an introduction to speedwork. Beginners will do best with a shorter warm-up and cool down (10 minutes warm-up, 5-10 minute cool down) and 8-10 intervals. For beginners, the focus should be on simply running faster for the hard intervals.
More experienced runners can complete 12-15 intervals at approximately 3K effort (slightly harder than 5K, but not all-out). To add more mileage, do a longer warm-up and cool down.
No matter what your ability level, you want to warm up properly before a speed workout with dynamic stretches and strides.
Short Interval Fartlek Run
Warm up with 1-2 miles/10-20 minutes of easy running, plus dynamic stretches and strides
Run 10-12 repeats of 1 minute at a hard effort (3K-5K effort), 1 minute recovery jog
Cool down with 1-2 miles/10-20 minutes of easy running
Do you incorporate short intervals into your training?