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It’s really hard to write a post about the fartlek and not make some childish, immature jokes. So let’s just get the laughing out of the way, shall we?
For those of who thinking I’ve lost my mind, let me assure you that “fartlek” is an actual term. It comes from the Swedish word for “speed play,” and it refers to a running workout where you occasionally pick up the pace for however long you’d like, and then slow down and recover…for however long you’d like.
If you’re a Type-A personality like me, initially you might be wary of this whole concept; you probably prefer structured workouts and regimented routines. And yet I truly believe it’s important for all of us – yes, even the Type A’s – to let loose a little bit when it comes to exercise. Sometimes we need to throw caution to the wind, let our hair down, and get a little crazy.
So that’s why I love the idea of a fartlek workout, which is actually supposed to feel more like playing than exercising. As this article from Runner’s World states,“Fartleks get us back to running like we did as kids, treating it as play and not as work.”
Not to mention it makes for an awesome workout! Study after study has shown that cardiovascular exercise is more effective when we vary our intensity level – as in intervals – than when we simply move at a steady pace. A fartlek is really just a free-form interval workout.
And even though the fartlek workout is technically a running one that focuses on speed specifically, the concept can easily be applied to all kinds of exercises: walking (with intervals of either power walking or jogging), elliptical workouts, biking, whatever! The idea is just to have fun varying your speed and intensity level.
So the next time your exercise routine starts feeling a bit too much like work, why not try playing around a bit with a fartlek workout? No snickering required.
Have you ever tried a fartlek run or free-form interval workout? Do you think this is something you’d like to incorporate into your exercise routine?