Surely you are wondering why both recreational and professional runners do fartlek training?
In this article, I will tell you all the advantages and disadvantages of fartlek training.
Advantages of fartlek training
One of the most important principles of training is variety. It is important to combine different types of training and set different requirements for the body. Fartlek is one of the best ways to achieve that.
1. Improves endurance
Fartlek is a great training that helps improve endurance because of the way it is performed. The main feature of fartlek training is continuous running with changes in running pace. The body adjusts to the effort over time, so you become able to run longer at a certain pace.
Start with a shorter fartlek, and gradually increase the length and duration of the fartlek training.
Research has shown that fartlek training has a significant impact on improving the maximum oxygen consumption and resting pulse rate.
The other research has shown that fartlek training has a significant impact on improving cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle endurance in young adults.
2. Improves speed
Fartlek means “speed play”. By inserting faster segments and changing the pace of running, the body adapts to different speeds. That way, in addition to breaking the monotony of your training, your body gets used to the feeling of running faster.
3. Does not create additional stress
Fartlek is run according to feeling, without thinking about your running pace. By adding faster segments, you can see how far you can go, but without over-exhausting your body, either mentally or physically.
This way, you can still do great training without looking at the clock, being burdened by speed, etc.
ExampleIt sounds a lot easier to do 10×1 minute fast than 10x400m.
4. It can be done during all training phases
Whether you have just started preparing for your race, or you are already in the final stages of preparation, you can do fartlek training.
Fartlek can be done in all training phases because it does not strain the body too much and is not mentally demanding.
In the preparation phase (base), fartlek allows you to move from easier to faster running and is a great introduction to interval training.
In the later training phases, fartlek is also great as a break between more demanding workouts, because you do not have to bother with the pace of running but only have to follow your feeling.
5. It is adaptable
As I said before, fartlek is run according to your feeling. Because of that, fartlek training is adaptable to your current form and training goals.
Whether you are in good or bad shape, whether you want to do an easier or harder training, it can be tailored to your needs.
Fartlek training can be an easier workout, in order to allow you to recover between harder types of training (like intervals), or if you are approaching a race or returning to training after an injury.
Likewise, fartlek training can be even harder if you want to add speed to your training and push your limits.
6. Provides diversity
Fartlek allows you to bring an element of play into training. By playing with speed and changing the pace of running, you will break the monotony of your daily training.
TipEnter an element of play into your training and break the monotony of your daily training in a fun way, whether you are a beginner or a more advanced runner.
7. Improves mental strength
Fartlek strengthens willpower and teaches you not to give up when it gets hard.
There are moments in the race when you are overwhelmed by thoughts. You think that you can no longer run, and you want to stop. But the body can go a lot faster and longer than you think. Even though your mind is signaling you to stop and despite the fatigue, you still manage to run.
The more you go through the boundaries of pain, the more mentally resistant you will be. Therefore, you will be able to withstand much greater effort, push your limits, and increase your pain tolerance.
8. Prepares you for race day
Fartlek training allows you to master the change of pace more easily during a race.
During a race, you will be more prepared for unexpected pace changes. You will often have to accelerate to overtake another runner, slow down at refreshment stations so you can successfully take refreshments, or speed up at a finish line.
9. It can be done alone or in a group
You can do fartlek training alone or in a group. However, when doing it in a group, you should be careful! It is important that everyone in the group is at a similar fitness level to avoid overtraining or injuries.
10. Intended for everyone
Fartlek training is great for both beginners and more advanced runners. Beginners should be careful because they can be fooled by their feeling. It very often happens that they overestimate their capabilities, start too fast, and fail to endure to the end.
11. It can be done anywhere
You can do fartlek training anywhere. It is not necessary to do it on the track. You can also do it in the street, forest, park, etc.
12. It burns more calories
Fartlek training will burn more calories than continuous running. Changes in the running pace vary the pulse, which leads to higher calorie consumption. For all those who aim to lose weight, fartlek training is a great choice.
Disadvantages of fartlek training
In addition to numerous advantages, fartlek training also has certain disadvantages.
1. You can be deceived by your feelings
If you are new to running, you can be fooled by your feeling. It very often happens that beginners start too fast and because of that fail to finish the training.
Aside from being too exhausted, you will not even be able to do the workout till the end. This can be quite frustrating and demotivating.
But the goal of fartlek training is to teach yourself how to run on your own by listening to your body and knowing how to dose the load.
Over time you will be able to recognize when and how much you can accelerate and at what pace to run.
2. It can lead to an imbalanced training plan
Each training has its purpose in the training plan. The most common mistake most runners make is that they do easier workouts faster than they are supposed to.
It is better to run slower than you need to, rather than too fast. When an easy workout is scheduled, go slowly so that you are rested for a hard workout. Not following this rule will result in overtraining and an increased risk of injury.
By doing fartlek training, it often happens that you go faster than planned. Since you run according to your feeling, you do not know what pace you are running at, and it may seem too slow to you.
The planned easy workout will then be done faster than it should, and you will be tired for the next, more demanding workout. So be careful when managing a training plan. If you are unsure, consult your coach.
3. Increases the risk of injury for beginners
If you are completely new to running, then fartlek training is not ideal for you. Before you start putting speed into your training, you need to get into shape.
Adding faster running segments during the first few weeks of training increases the risk of injury.
When you decide to start running, the most important thing is to first focus on the proper running technique and gradually increase fitness through continuous training. Only when you reach a certain fitness level, i.e. you are able to run for at least half an hour without stopping, you can start inserting faster segments into your training.
4. Running with other runners can be challenging
You can do fartlek training alone, as well as with other runners. That is its advantage, but also its disadvantage.
You need to be careful when training in a group. It is important that you are all at a similar fitness level.
If this is not the case, it will lead you to too much exhaustion and have a counter-effect. But if you are all at similar fitness levels, it can be a lot of fun for you.
5. Creativity is needed
Fartlek is run according to feeling and, because of that, a dose of creativity is needed.
Sometimes you are not inspired enough, or you just want to follow a certain training determined by distance and time. That is the charm of fartlek training, but for some of you, it will still be a negative side.
Hi, I’m Matea! I’m an Olympic Marathon Runner, founder, and writer behind OLYRUN.com. On this site, I provide help in the form of my knowledge and experience to all who love running and active living. Read more…