What is a Fartlek Run? & Why Are They Effective?

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What is A Fartlek Run?

Many newcomers to marathon training ask, what is a fartlek run? Well a fartlek run is used by many athletes in there training programmes to improve fitness and improve stamina. It involves a set distance run with varied intensities throughout.

A great example of a farlek run, and some that we advocate in our half marathon training schedule, would be a 6 mile run with intense sprints for 2 minutes followed by a slower pace of recovery for 3 minutes.




The word ‘Fartlek’ is actually a Swedish word with a literal translation meaning ‘speed play’. In essence its a form of interval training which can become an essential part of any training programme. What separates it from traditional interval training techniques is that its much more informal. A fartlek run might be a run that includes walking and sprints for a beginner, whereas it may comprise of two set paced times for the more experienced runner.

Fartlek versions

Mailbox: There are also a number different versions of a fartlek run, most notably the mailbox version. This involves a run where you would sprint the distance between 2 post boxes and then slow down for 3, you repeat this theme throughout the full distance of the run.

Music: The music version consists of listening to a song while running, sprinting for the duration of the chorus, then slowing down the pace for each verse. Its another great technique to managing sections of a run and its really simple to pick up for beginners