What’s the Difference Between Fartlek, Tempo And Interval Runs?

Fartlek is the Swedish term for speed (faer) play (lek). It is a combination of continuous training and interval training. It is characterized simply as a short bursts of quick running alternated  with a periods of slow running. 

The length of time you spend fast and slow running can vary depending on your wish. You are also free to mix and match different speeds and distances as much as you want.  In a fartlek workout, the quick periods should not be sprints because you need to maintain moving throughout the entire session.

Fartlek is ideal for individuals who maybe less conscious of their endurance limits. Beginners should avoid pushing themselves too hard, as this may result in injury or disinterest in the sport. With practice, you will learn at what pace you are most comfortable and how fast your body can go for an interval period. 

Example of Fartlek Workout

A simple example of fartlek workout is as follows:

  • Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of jogging                                                                
  • Fartlek: 20 mins. You can go faster for 2 minutes and then slower for 1 minute and repeating it until the allotted time of 20 minutes has passed. As an alternative, you might take advantage of natural markers such as lampposts to guide you. Run past the first two lamp posts as quickly as you can, then recover for the next three. 

Enjoy yourself with fartlek because you can do them in any way you like. The rest periods can change as can the fast periods. like high intensity interval training (HIIT).

  • Cooldown: 5-10 min of jogging

Gosta Holmer, the Swedish national coach in the 1920s got his athletes to complete as much as 3 Fartlek sessions each week. A typical session would include running for 7 miles continuously with effort distances lasting 40m to 2.4km.

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What Are the Benefits of Fartlek Training?

  • Fartlek runs are fun, can be done anywhere, and help improve your speed and endurance.                                                                                                 
  • A stress-free workout that enhances mental strength, stamina, and mind-body awareness.                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Adaptable and make you prepare for the race day. Fartlek is an excellent training approach if you want to improve your ability to finish a race strongly.

What is Tempo Running?

Tempo run, alternatively referred to as threshold training or running, is a critical training approach while preparing for a 10K or half marathon race pace. Tempo workout  is a run at or slightly above your anaerobic threshold (the point at which your body begins to use more glycogen for energy). It should be a longer continuous run than fartlek exercises and intervals.

This is the exertion level at which you are just outside your comfort zone – you can hear your breath but are not gasping for air. If you are able to speak smoothly, you are not in the tempo zone; if you are unable to speak at all, you are above the zone. It should be somewhere in the middle, so that you can use broken words to describe your feelings. 

A tempo run can be done in a variety of ways. If you know and monitor your heart rate, you should monitor it and keep it within your maximum heart rate zone. Ideally, your heart rate stays stable throughout the tempo run.

You may also keep track of your overall speed and average pace. Once again, it is important to maintain a steady pace. Set up a training screen on your Polar watch that displays your current pace and average pace to assist you in this endeavor. But, discourage to focus on the pace because it is affected by several things such as wind, air temperature, respite, and your overall health.

Example of Tempo Run Workout

Warm-up: 10-15 minutes of jogging

Tempo run: 25–30 minutes of continuous running at the same pace or heart rate. Use heart rate zones 3 and 4.

Cooldown: 5–10 minutes of jogging

Remember this just gives you a gauge. There is no right magic number. They can be anywhere from 25 minutes to 2-3 hours long, depending on your fitness goals.

What Are the Benefits of Tempo Training?

  • Tempo runs improve your lactate threshold. This means you can run faster and for longer periods of time before the lactic acid in your blood starts to accumulate.                                                                                                       
  • Improves concentration, race simulation, and mental strength.

What is Intervals Running?

Interval exercises consist of short bursts of intense effort followed by an equal or slightly longer recovery period. In the 1950s, Olympic champion Emil Zatopek popularized interval training by emphasizing the importance of engaging in short burst of intensive running without allowing the body to recuperate completely afterward.

They can be performed anywhere, but tracks are a popular choice. You should be getting near to the “no-talk” zone during an interval run, where you can only utter a few words.

‘Interval training will enhance your level of fitness faster than almost any other sort of running,’ says Jeff Gaudette, a running instructor. Breathing in between phases of fast running allows you to handle more of it, resulting in a higher stimulation being delivered to your heart, lungs, and muscles.

In contrast to tempo runs and fartlek exercises, interval training involves a short rest between each repetition of a particular exercise.

Another distinction is that, your pace during intervals should be faster than your tempo run and fartlek pace.

Example of Interval Workout

Warm-up: 10-15 minutes of jogging and stretching

Interval training: Run 2 minutes at maximum speed, then for 2-3 minutes go jogging or step to restore breathing. Repeat the cycle 10-15 times or as much as possible.

Cooldown: 5–10 minutes of jogging

Remember interval training is a tough training approach that necessitates sufficient warm-up and recovery time for your body.

Interval workout can be fixed easily by experimenting with different durations of exercise and recovery, or how long you are performing intense exercise and how long you are recovering.

What Are the Benefits of Interval Training?

  • This workout improves your speed, endurance, and pain threshold.                                                                       
  • Short breaks help increase lung capacity                                                   
  • Helps to increase VO2 max (maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise).                                                                                         
  • Also improves running form and economy, as well as mental-physical coordination, motivation, and fat-burning.

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