Workout of the week: Fartlek run with hill surges

Each week I share a swim, bike, run, plyometric or strength workout from my training. Give it a shot and leave your feedback in the comments.

The fartlek, or “speed play,” is the ultimate run workout. It relies on feel and an understanding of how different paces feel. For me, perceived effort is the best feedback you can provide yourself. What does 6 hilly-roadminute per mile pace feel like? What about 6:30 pace? For about four years, before I bought my first Garmin, I used a regular ol’ sports watch. I never had real-time speed, but that was okay. Over time, I began to learn how different efforts felt. It’s helped make me a more aware, and better runner today.

The beauty of fartlek runs is that there’s no structure. You decide how long the work intervals are, the rest intervals, and the effort. Here, I take one of those variables away and use the natural environment as our guide. For this session, you’ll increase your effort during any uphill and then recover on downhills. This session is especially helpful for runners who are training for a hilly course, like Boston. If you live somewhere that’s pancake flat, not to worry. Use a treadmill to simulate hills and use the same variable approach.

15 minute warm up

40 minute fartlek

Increase effort on all uphills

Decrease effort on all downhills

5 minute cool down


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