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How To Do Fartlek Training

I really like running fast, that feeling when your feet are nearly off the ground. Unfortunately my legs and lungs aren’t as keen. They tell me that I’m not Usain Bolt and won’t let me do it very much. 

I have enjoyed mixing things up a bit though in the last couple of weeks and doing some Fartlek. It comes from the Swedish for "Speed play” and is a way of training in which you vary your pace and mix up aerobic and anaerobic work. I like the spontaneity of it. It helps me feel that I’m not stuck in too much of a schedule...

How To Do Fartlek Training

Warm up jog for five minutes.

Identify a lamppost about 100 yards in front of you.

Realise that you have no idea how far 100 yards actually is.

Convert it to metric. Remember you have no idea how far that is either.


Spot an endearing spaniel in the distance.

Run faster until you reach the endearing spaniel.

Use stroking the spaniel as an excuse to slow down.

Realise The Apprentice is on in twenty minutes. Speed up.

Remember the series has finished. Slow down.

Spot two fit men wearing wristbands zooming towards you

at approximate speed of light.

Pick up speed until they pass you.

Decelerate dramatically once you’re out of their eyeline.

See some unnaturally squishy dog poo on the pavement just in front of you.

Execute two giant leaps.

Scrape your trainers on the pavement whilst pretending you’re moonwalking.

See crowd of youths gathered at bus stop. Speed up.

Get stitch at exact point you pass them. Slow down.

Accelerate to beat the incoming tide.

Stop to dry your trainers. And shorts.

See an ice cream van pulling away. Speed up.

Say the word "Fartlek” in your head.

Fartlek, Fartlek, Fartlek, Fartlek.

Run until you stop laughing.

Realise you need the toilet.

Sprint at speed all the way home.


Kate Fox is a poet, writer and broadcaster. She was Poet in Residence for the Great North Run in 2011, and is working on a new show for families for the 2012 Great North Run Culture programme called The Starting Line.
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