It's not just about Ikea and meatballs

As I've mentioned before every other Saturday involves a longer swim session. These are the times when it takes the most will power to to stay for the run as the an hour and a half of swimming can take it out of you. Also after Thursday's disappointing 3km run I was concerned that I just wouldn't have it in the legs to run with my fellow EGTC club members. It was also quite a miserable day and I'd already spent 90 minutes getting wet in the pool so wasn't masively keen to spend another hour getting wet outside. I was coming up with some good excuses.

However I remained strong (well was encouraged to stay), didn't rush away in the car and was rewarded with a gentle run but with some interval sprints thrown in. This is commonly known as Fartlek training, which is Swedish for "speed play".

Sweden: home of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets and Fartlek running
Fartlek running involves varying your pace throughout your run, alternating between fast segments and slow jogs. Unlike traditional interval training that involves specific timed or measured segments, fartleks are more unstructured but you can experiment with pace and endurance. Therefore you can make the sprints and the jogs as tough or as gentle as you like, the work-rest intervals can be based on how the body feels. Ultimately it's good for improving both your speed and endurance.

This is a good session to do if you are in a group with mixed abilities because if you find you have got slightly ahead of the pack then you can use the slow jogs to amble back to the group. However it's also a good one to make things a bit more interesting if you are out on your own. What you do is choose a spot in the distance, perhaps a tree or a lamp post, and run to that spot at a harder pace. You then jog for a while until you feel ready for another hard burst. How often you do it, the intensity and duration of these harder bursts is entirely up to you.

With this weekend sandwiched between two 10k races I don't think this session could have come at a better time for me. I felt I was getting benefit from pushing myself with the sprints but during the gentle jogs I was really taking it easy. So from spending the early part of the morning convincing myself I wouldn't have any energy for the run I felt like I'd got some good training in. Now I just need to motivate myself to get to the gym today.

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