My marathon training has not only improved my fitness, it has expanded my vocabulary. Previously, I would have thought the word “fartlek” had something to do with bathroom humor. Which I of course think is juvenile and immature …
So what is a fartlek? In technical terms from Wikipedia:
Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed varies, as the athlete wishes. Most fartlek sessions last a minimum of 45 minutes and can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting. Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise.
So basically it is changing up pace and effort during a run to maximize the amount of aerobic exercise you do. Some of the training I have been doing for the marathon have me doing a couple minutes of slow running, then 30-45 seconds of near sprint speeds, back to slow couple minutes then repeat.
It definitely builds your stamina while at the same time tickling the funny bone.