A Windy Fartlek Run

Fartlek is always a funny word for us and when included with the word ‘windy’ I guess it’s a little funnier, but a fartlek session what I had planned for yesterdays main training session so that’s what I did.

For those who don’t know what it means, Wikipedia have it defined as:

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.

I prefer something a little more structured though so although it might be called a fartlek run I do have plans for the various intervals I want to do so really mine are just an interval session with a silly name. I upped the ante a little bit with my plans for yesterdays fartlek run by giving myself some hard targets to hit. The plan was to do the following:

  • 10 mins warm up
  • 4 mins hard (at 6:10-6:25 min/mile pace)
  • 5 mins easy
  • 4 mins hard (at 6:10-6:25 min/mile pace)
  • 4 mins easy
  • 4 mins hard (at 6:10-6:25 min/mile pace)
  • 3 mins easy
  • 4 mins hard (at 6:10-6:25 min / mile pace)
  • 2 mins easy
  • 4 mins hard (at 6:10-6:25 min/mile pace)
  • 1 min easy
  • 4 mins hard (at 6:10-6:25 min/mile pace)
  • 30 secs easy
  • 4 mins hard (at 6:10-6:25 min/mile pace)
  • Cool Down

Holding 6:10 -6 :25 min/mile pace should be possible for 4 minutes but its not easy for me and with the amount of rest time reducing all the way through the workout it was just going to get harder and harder as the workout progressed and fatigue set in. That wasn’t quite the case though thanks to the strong southerly winds. I was running into the headwind for the first few hard efforts and just couldn’t get the pace up to where I wanted it to be. Try as I might, making headway against the wind was difficult and the best I could manage was to average 6:48 min/mile for the first effort, 7:23 min/mile for the second and 7:13 min/mile for the third. Not the best start to the workout but there were also a few gates and styles to contend with on my route so these will have had an effect on my average pace over those intervals as well. Maybe they weren’t quite as bad as they seem on paper.

The fourth interval had a short steep hill in it but by now I was sheltered from the wind a little and managed to hit an average pace of 6:23, just inside my target so maybe without the wind and gates on the earlier efforts I would have been OK. The rest intervals were getting shorter by now though and I was beginning to tire. Thankfully the final three intervals were with the wind behind me as I headed towards home so the pace increased considerably. Despite the shorter rest intervals I managed to knock them out at 6:18, 6:11 and 6:16 mins/mile pace so well within the target I was aiming for. It’s difficult to know how I would have fared if it weren’t for the wind, but it would probably have been the other way around. No doubt I would have hit my targets for the first few but then missed them once the rest intervals shortened. I don’t think I could quite hit them all the way through the workout yet, but it’s something to aim for.

Hopefully next time I try this workout it won’t be so windy and I think I’ll pick a route with less gates as well, or at least try to adjust it so that the gates coincide with the recovery intervals rather than the hard efforts.

I couldn’t let all that wind go to waste though so I went for a quick windsurf session in the afternoon. I was a little overpowered in the mad gusty conditions despite only using my 4.5m sail and little wave board. I therefore didn’t stay out too long but still had a nice little session with some decent jumps. It was then back home for another shower before jumping on the turbo trainer for what was supposed to be an hours recovery ride. I say ‘supposed to be’ because it turned out to be pretty hard work thanks to the fatigue in my legs from the run and the windsurfing.

Not a bad day of activities though. I think I can judge the quality of the day by the number of times I have to have a shower!

1 Response

  1. mum says:

    Now I know why you have tired legs on fb

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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