I’ve heard people talk about fartleks and tempo runs before but never really knew what it meant. To date, the training guides that I have relied upon have called for things like “aerobic intervals” and “gentle pickups” as speed-work, and you’ve probably seen me use those terms here.
I really enjoy the type of speed training that I have been doing. I definitely can see improvement in my strength, endurance, and pace. But I am eager to learn more about this magical thing called running, and to get even better at it still.
So without further ado, here is what I have learned from my speed training vocabulary lesson:
El Profesor and I used to fartlek together all the time, and didn’t even know it. Remember honey, BENCH FOUR! We used to push each other farther and faster by calling out markers in the distance, such as benches, trash cans and water fountains. Then we would race each other toward them. EP always got there first, but I was always able to run past the marker without being totally out of breath. No wonder I’m now marathon bound and he’s sticking to running the bases at Saturday softball games.
Interval training is sort of like running fartleks. After a warm up, you alternate between running at a challenging pace and jogging for recovery, then cool down. But with interval training, you push yourself at your maximum pace for a specific duration, whereas with fartleks you push yourself a bit harder than your comfortable pace but not for a specific pace or duration.
These are my favorites because I love challenging myself at the end of a run. The trick is to walk for several minutes after completing a run of intermediate distance (shorter than your long run, but longer than your easy run) and then sprint, essentially, for 10 to 20 meters. After walking to complete recovery, continue this pattern for 100 meters.
Tempo runs still elude me. Until I cruised around the Runner’s World website, I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do for a true tempo run. I had thought it was when you run each mile faster than the one before it. But I now know that is a progression run. A tempo run, on the other hand, is one that is run at a “comfortably hard” pace. Tempo runs are all about perceived effort – running by feel – and that’s how I run. If I had to pinpoint which of my runs are “tempo runs” I would say that my shorter runs definitely fall in to that category. When I only have time for a four or five-miler, I push harder than I would for a long run, but don’t go all out either. I would even say that my recent shorter distance races (4-milers and 5-milers) would fall in to that category, too. For more specifics, I highly recommend this article on tempo runs. But this means that I haven’t pushed myself to my max in recent races. Admittedly, that’s true. I don’t want to wear myself out before the finish line, but I need to push past that fear to crush some goals and earn some shiny new PRs!
Here is another post about speed work that I really like:
Running for SPEED (Never Homemaker)
My little disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. The information provided in this post is a description of my own experience and opinions. What works for me may not work for you. If you are interested in beginning a training plan or making changes to your diet, please contact your physician.