Fartlek, which means "speed play" in Swedish, is a type of running workout that involves continuous running at varying paces. Unlike structured speed workouts such as intervals, fartlek is unstructured, allowing runners to adjust their speed based on how they feel and the terrain. It can be done anywhere and is a versatile training method that challenges the body to adapt to various speeds, improving overall speed and endurance. Fartlek workouts can include short bursts of faster running followed by periods of easy running, and they can be tailored to individual fitness levels and training goals. This type of training can be a fun and effective way to improve running performance, as it provides a lot of flexibility and can be adapted to different terrains and distances.

It's especially beneficial for distance runners to enhance aerobic endurance and speed. In a fartlek session, you spontaneously mix periods of fast running, slow jogging, and steady-paced running. This variation not only works different energy systems in your body but also prevents the run from getting boring or too exhausting.


  1. Versatility: You can do fartlek training in various settings, like hills, flat roads, or trails.
  2. Different from Interval Training: Unlike traditional interval training, which consists of structured high-intensity runs followed by rest periods, fartlek is more flexible. You run at a comfortable pace, then speed up for a while, and return to a moderate pace, mimicking real race scenarios where speed changes are often needed.
  3. Fun and Engaging: Fartlek keeps your training interesting and enjoyable. The changing paces help keep you engaged and motivated throughout your workout.
  4. Adaptable for All Levels: Beginners might incorporate short bursts of faster running with longer jogging periods, while advanced runners can opt for longer and more intense sprints.
  5. Tracking Progress: Though fartlek's flexibility is a plus, it can make it challenging to monitor progress and set specific goals. Recording your workouts and noting changes in pace and performance over time can be helpful.
  6. Gradual Progression: As with any training, it’s important to gradually increase the intensity and duration of your fartlek workouts to prevent injuries and avoid overtraining.

In summary, fartlek training is a dynamic and fun way to improve both speed and endurance in running. Its adaptable nature makes it suitable for runners of all levels, and it can be done in a variety of environments. Incorporating fartlek into your routine can enhance your overall fitness and running performance, keeping your workouts interesting and effective.


Incorporating fartlek into a running routine can provide several benefits:

  1. Variety: Fartlek runs offer a change of scenario and can be done anywhere, adding excitement and variety to your training routine.
  2. Speed improvement: Fartlek runs can help build speed and endurance, improving your overall speed on the track or road.
  3. Mental strength: Fartlek training challenges the mind, strengthening willpower and mental strength, which can help you push through tough spots during races.
  4. Stress-free workout: Fartlek runs provide a stress-free workout that improves mind-body awareness, mental strength, and stamina.
  5. Introducing new runners to speed work: Fartlek runs are a great way to introduce new runners to speed work, as they allow for a more relaxed approach to faster running.
  6. Gradual adaptation to harder training: Fartlek runs can help the body gradually adjust to harder training without being forced to stick to a specific pace or distance.

Incorporating fartlek into your training plan can help you improve speed, endurance, and overall running performance while adding variety and mental strength to your training routine.