Fartin’ Around with Fartlek

Happy Friday, Everyone!

As I mentioned in my last post, “Just 10 Minutes/Day of Stretching,” I always try to write about things that are conducive and true to my every day, hectic lifestyle; mainly, that means I’m sharing time-efficient and scalable, yet challenging workouts and ways to incorporate more balance and wellness in hope that it benefits you and your lifestyle needs, as well.

That being said, I realize that sometimes we just don’t have much time (or energy) to fit in a long, much-needed workout or to catch a fitness class that sounds exciting and so when I stumbled upon this article from Fitness Magazine called “The Most Effective Workouts if You Only Have 10, 20, 30, or 40 Minutes,” I knew that I had to investigate further and write about it for my Feature Friday series!

This past Monday, my usual RunYoga series class with Cara Gilman was canceled so Becca and I decided to stick with our consistent running routine and do our own workout instead. Inspired (and intimidated) by the Fitness Magazine article and what many of our fellow running friends do, we decided to challenge ourselves with our very first Fartlek workout (which on the article is highlighted as what to do if you have 20 minutes for a workout) and so we decided to take our evening training session to the outdoor track at Harvard University.

So, what the heck is a Fartlek? Well, it’s not exactly what it sounds like, but it could make you just as smelly from all of the sweat you’ll release! Fartlek is Swedish for “speedy play” and is a fairly unstructured workout where you warm up and then play with running at a faster pace (think: race pace) for a shorter period of time, followed by an easier effort pace to recover. Then you repeat for however long you wish to continue the workout. Fartlek workouts can be something done on your own, with a partner, or even in a larger group in which someone is the leader and can set the pace for the faster-effort levels.

The Fitness Magazine article that I linked to above gives a nice description of what a 20-ish minute Fartlek workout, so-as novices to this whole speed play thing-we decided to follow that for our first attempt. What was tricky for us was deciphering what our “level 8” pace was like versus our “level 7” and “level 9.” We decided that this was pretty subjective (we obviously have to run off of what we feel that pace should be) and is something that will obviously change and grow over time as we get faster and smarter.

So, in chicken scratch terms, this is what our workout was:

Watch-Workout-Track

In clearer terms it says: 6 minutes at level 4, 1 minute at level 8, 30 seconds at level 9, 30 seconds at level 5, 2 minutes at level 7, 2 minutes at level 5 and then repeat (minus the 6 minute warm-up). A workout like this will also teach you that having some kind of watch to monitor your time and pace is very helpful. Pictured here is my Garmin Forerunner 220, which I purchased for my last half marathon and personally love!

So, in the end, we definitely sweat a lot (after all, our motto is: #SweatLikeAPigToLookLikeAFox), pushed our limits, tired our legs out, but really enjoyed experimenting with a new kind of running culture. I mean, c’mon…these aren’t the faces of two humans who just hated their workout, right?!?

Becca-Meg-track

Afterwards, Becca and I agreed that, although it was hard, it was good to do and that we will try to incorporate it into our future training series more–we’re curious how it will help our race times and overall enjoyment of running (“It will be great!” Becca said, per usual). After all, if it doesn’t challenge you then it doesn’t change you…right?! t would also highly recommend trying a Fartlek workout to anyone who is curious about speed work, in a run training program/series, or who gets bored easily with just long and short runs; but again, I am a complete novice to this so I hope to share more insights and knowledge about my speed workouts more in the future.

In the meantime, tell me about your experiences with speed play! Did you love it/hate it/are too intimated to try it? If you have done it, what are some of your favorite, short and effective kinds to do? I would love your guidance and recommendations when doing it more consistently in the future so please comment below or write to me on Twitter: @meggielukes, with the hashtag #MegInTheMeantime.

Other than that, I’m two days out from the B.A.A. 10k–I can’t believe it!! Tonight, I’ll go for my last short run after work before I rest and stretch out my body and fuel up for Sunday. Wish me luck!!

Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget to check in on Sunday for my next Sunday Snacks series–I promise it’ll be another delicious one!

Love,
Meg

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