XC Running: Race the Car Fartlek

XC Running: Race the Car Fartlek

Dick Moss, Editor, PE Update.com

Fartlek running (fartlek means “speed-play” in Swedish, in case you think I need my mouth washed out with soap) is meant to be unstructured running in which the athlete speeds up and slows down repeatedly throughout a run—with the location and duration of the speed changes dependent on how the runner feels.

But some runners find this lack of structure confusing.  They aren't sure how far or how fast to run or how often they are “supposed” to change pace.  And for the unmotivated, fartlek provides the perfect opportunity to slack off.

A Race the Car Fartlek is a great way to reduce such feelings of uncertainty while keeping fartlek unstructured and unpredictable.

How to Race Cars
While on a run, instruct your runners to listen for a car coming from behind.  When they hear a vehicle (or sight one off in the distance) they should speed up and attempt to reach a specific landmark (perhaps a telephone pole or a traffic sign) before the car does.

You could also use this concept with oncoming traffic. Locate a car in the distance and run at a faster pace until it passes you.

1. Jeff Galloway, Cross-Country Running & Racing, Meyer & Meyer Fachverlag und Buchhandel GmbH; Original edition, 2010.
2. Joan Samuelson, “Medical & training advice: Fast work.” Runner's World, September 1988.

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