Fartlek Training for Improving Speed: Boost Your Running Performance

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Improving your speed is a common goal for many runners, whether you’re looking to set personal records or simply enjoy the thrill of running faster. Fartlek training, a Swedish term meaning “speed play,” is an effective and enjoyable method for boosting your running speed.

Want to boost your treadmill training experience? Find out how with our comprehensive Treadmill Fartlek Training workout guide – your fitness journey starts here!

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how Fartlek training can help improve your speed, provide sample workouts, and offer tips for incorporating this versatile training method into your running routine.

Fartlek Training for Improving Speed: Boost Your Running Performance

Key TakeawayDescription
Fartlek Training for SpeedFartlek training effectively improves running speed by incorporating faster intervals into workouts, teaching the body to maintain faster paces over varying durations.
Speed-Focused Fartlek WorkoutsFocus on shorter, faster intervals with longer recovery periods in between to prioritize speed development and allow for proper recovery between high-intensity efforts.
Sample Speed-Focused Fartlek WorkoutWarm-up: 10 minutes easy jog; Main set: 8-10 intervals of 30 seconds to 1 minute at mile race pace or faster, followed by 2-3 minutes of easy jogging for recovery; Cool-down: 10 minutes easy jog.
Progression and AdaptationGradually increase the intensity, duration, and number of fast intervals in Fartlek workouts, and reduce recovery times to continually challenge the body and stimulate speed improvements.
Varying Workouts for Continued ImprovementIncorporate a variety of speed-focused Fartlek workouts with different interval lengths, speeds, and terrain to keep the body challenged and avoid plateaus in speed development.
Balancing Speed Work and RecoveryEnsure adequate recovery between speed-focused Fartlek workouts by incorporating easy days, rest days, and lower-intensity workouts into your training schedule to avoid overtraining and injury.
Combining Fartlek with Other Speed WorkoutsTo further enhance speed development, combine speed-focused Fartlek training with other types of speed workouts, such as track intervals, hill sprints, and tempo runs.
Setting Speed GoalsSet specific speed goals, such as target race paces or personal bests, to help focus speed-focused Fartlek workouts and measure progress over time.

 Read Also: Fartlek Training on a Treadmill: Mastering Speed Work Indoors

Fartlek TrainingFartlek training is a form of continuous training that incorporates varied intensity levels throughout the workout, allowing for improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic capacities, which can benefit runners of all levels.Reaburn, P., & Dascombe, B. (2008). Endurance performance in masters athletes. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 5(1), 31-42. 
Improved SpeedFartlek training helps develop speed by including short, high-intensity bursts of running within a continuous workout, which can lead to enhanced neuromuscular adaptations and increased running economy.Denadai, B. S., Ortiz, M. J., Greco, C. C., & de Mello, M. T. (2006). Interval training at 95% and 100% of the velocity at VO2 max: effects on aerobic physiological indexes and running performance. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 31(6), 737-743.  
Boosted Running PerformanceBy incorporating varying intensities into a workout, Fartlek training can help enhance running performance through better endurance, increased speed, and improved running economy.Gliemann, L., Gunnarsson, T. P., Hellsten, Y., & Bangsbo, J. (2015). 10-20-30 training increases performance and lowers blood pressure and VEGF in runners. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 25(1), e479-e489 

Please note that these references are related to the benefits of Fartlek training and its impact on running performance in general, rather than specifically focusing on Fartlek training for improving speed to boost one’s running performance.

Understanding Fartlek Training:

Fartlek training involves alternating between periods of higher intensity and recovery during a continuous run. Unlike traditional interval training, Fartlek workouts are less structured and more spontaneous, with speed bursts and recovery intervals determined by how you feel and the terrain you’re running on.

Why Fartlek Training is Effective for Improving Speed:


The spontaneous nature of Fartlek training keeps your body guessing, helping you break through plateaus and continue improving your speed.

Mental toughness:

Fartlek training teaches you to listen to your body and push yourself through challenging speed bursts, helping to build mental strength.

Improved aerobic and anaerobic capacity:

The combination of continuous running and speed bursts in Fartlek training improves both your aerobic and anaerobic fitness, contributing to overall speed improvement.

Fartlek Workouts for Speed Improvement:

Basic Fartlek:

During a 30-45 minute run, alternate between faster running and easy jogging periods. Vary the duration and intensity of your speed bursts based on how you feel and the terrain.

Ladder Fartlek:

Begin with a short speed burst (e.g., 30 seconds) followed by an equal recovery interval. Gradually increase the duration of the speed bursts and recovery intervals (e.g., 1 minute, 2 minutes, etc.) before working your way back down the ladder.

Hill Fartlek:

Incorporate uphill and downhill speed bursts into your Fartlek workouts to build strength and improve your running efficiency on various terrains.

Tips for Successful Fartlek Training:

  • Warm up properly with 5-10 minutes of easy jogging and dynamic stretches before beginning your Fartlek workout.
  • Focus on maintaining proper running form during speed bursts, even as the intensity increases.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your workouts as needed, allowing for adequate rest and recovery between high-intensity sessions.

Incorporating Fartlek Training into Your Running Routine:

  • Aim to include Fartlek workouts 1-2 times per week, depending on your goals, fitness level, and overall training plan.
  • Combine Fartlek training with other forms of speed work, endurance training, and strength training for a well-rounded running routine.
  • Schedule Fartlek sessions during base-building or early-season training, gradually transitioning to more structured speed work as you approach your goal races.

Measuring Progress and Adjusting Your Workouts:

  • Track your Fartlek workouts, including the duration, intensity, and distance covered, to measure progress over time.
  • Use a GPS watch or running app to monitor your pace and heart rate during your Fartlek sessions.
  • Regularly participate in races or time trials to assess your running performance and make adjustments to your training plan as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long should my Fartlek workouts be?

The duration of your Fartlek workouts will depend on your fitness level and goals. Beginners may start with 20-30 minute sessions, while more experienced runners can aim for 45-60 minute workouts.

Can I do Fartlek training on a treadmill?

Fartlek training can be adapted for treadmill workouts by adjusting the speed and incline settings.

How should I cool down after a Fartlek workout?

Cool down with 5-10 minutes of easy jogging and static stretches to promote recovery and prevent injury.


Fartlek training is an effective and enjoyable way to improve your running speed, helping you break through plateaus and reach new levels of performance. By incorporating Fartlek workouts into your running routine, focusing on proper form, and listening to your body, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your speed goals.

Combine Fartlek training with other forms of speed work, endurance training, and strength training for a well-rounded and dynamic running routine that keeps you engaged and motivated. Happy running!


John Smith is a passionate and experienced gym instructor, dedicated to empowering individuals to become the best versions of themselves through fitness. With over 10 years of professional experience, John has become a trusted authority in the health and wellness industry. Having worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels, John has developed a unique approach that combines a deep understanding of human anatomy and physiology with personalized fitness programs tailored to each client's goals and abilities. John's friendly and motivating demeanor enables him to build strong relationships with clients, guiding them on their journey to optimal health and wellness.

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