Fartlek Training for Beginners

Admit it.

Every time someone says “fartlek” you giggle.

Then you begin to wonder what it really means and why it’s so valuable to your training.

Fartlek workouts are simply intervals of speed based on the Swedish translation “speed play”. They can be done as a structured workout or randomized with both providing benefits to the runner.

On the treadmill fartlek runs are a great way to break up the workout! Many runners say it’s their favorite way to pass the time and they find on the treadmill it’s easier to push their pace just a little bit more than they would outside.


  • Varies the intensity of the workout
  • Allows you to practice speed without specific time goals
  • Prevents boredom
  • Mimics the speed up and slow down that happen on race day
  • Helps to improve aerobic conditioning
  • Allows you to listen to your body when deciding how hard to push

How to do a fartlek workout:

  • Warm up for at least 10-15 minutes before doing any speed
  • Increase speed from a medium to hard effort for a selected duration
  • Return to easy pace
  • Repeat as desired
  • Cool down for at least 10-15 minutes
  • Don’t add in speed workouts until you have at least a few months of solid base training
  • Use them only once a week when starting out

Fartlek Training

Thanks to The Fix for this great infographic on the different ways to do a fartlek workout.

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