Why try Fartlek Training?

Being a part of a large sports team, every preseason brings about the arduous task of getting back into top condition. This is a situation that everyone can relate to whether you are training for a race or the first match of the year. A suggestion that is always made is Fartlek training, something that is always mentioned by my coach but I usually shun. However bored with my usual dull routine I thought this year I’d mix it up.

What is it?

It is a form of interval or speed training that is generated from the Swedish term meaning ‘speed play’.  It involves changing your pace at seemingly random intervals (emphasising the ‘random’ as this is a pivotal part). Unlike interval it is unstructured so while you are jogging you pick a tree or lamppost and use this as your start or end point of your sprint.

The premise is that you start out on a normal jog and then after 2 or 3 minutes you hit a landmark and start sprinting. The sprint ends at your next landmark and it should not be longer than 200m or 45s seconds. This is then repeated for a period of ideally 30minutes probably no longer than 50.


While my first thoughts as I trundled down the hill to my local park, waiting for my first ‘tree’ to arrive, were that of scepticism at this unstructured version of interval training, I was soon pleasantly surprised (That is if you can call working up a sweat pleasant). I found it challenging and sporadic making it simulate a game scenario. In a match we will not jog for 1 minute and then sprint for 30s, no, it is far more intense than that and fartlek allows you to have this flexibility. It has an increased intensity from a normal run as well which tests strength and endurance as well as improving speed running. It increases cardio capacity and recovery time too, which is ideal for competitive sportsmen.

If I’m honest I only lasted a fairly unimpressive 17 minutes and 50 seconds on my  first outing but actually I found this quite pleasing, It changed the monotony of just running that I normally find insatiably dull and even shortened it, which I saw as a win win. Additionally it was harder work than your standard run and highlighted how much I still have to go before I will be ready to start the season (the latter being a slightly less amicable realisation)

Therefore if you are looking for a game like simulation that will more quickly get you up to fitness this is perfect. It may not be pleasant but what training regime is?


Written by: Oliver Davies – Hockey Instructor

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