There are different types of runners. Some are regular joggers while some run in marathons. Some run for joy while some do it professionally. No matter what the reason or type of running is, one thing is constant – it is a great workout for your health. 

Amongst the different types of running, there is one that catches attention just by its mention. It is none other than Fartlek Training. This Swedish workout became quite famous in the 1940s and the popularity has still not faded. If you are planning to start Fartlek training but don’t have a clear idea of what is Fartlek training method or what are the advantages of Fartlek training, you are at the right place. 

In this article, you will find it all along with different Fartlek training workout. Let’s get started!

What Is Fartlek Training?

Let’s begin by getting the basic definition of what is Fartlek training. The word “Fart” means “speed” in Swedish, while “Lek” means “play”. This Fartlek training meaning is “speed-play training” if you want to roughly translate the word. 

Interestingly, Fartlek is not a common word in Sweden. In fact, non-runners in Sweden may not recognize it. It is only among the running circles throughout the world that Fartlek training and the advantages of Fartlek training are well known. 

Usually, Fartlek training is given for improving the speed and stamina of runners. It is a tried-and-tested technique with proven benefits of speed endurance. The method does so by blending continuous training with interval training. In simple words, unlike intervals, you don’t have to stop during the Fartlek training exercise. It goes on continuously with changing pace to condition your body to become faster over longer distances. 

This is one of the advantages of Fartlek training that makes it quite popular for almost all fitness levels and it can be customized according to personal preferences. 

History of Fartlek training

Before the 1930s, no one had any idea what is Fartlek training method was. The method was actually developed in 1937 by a running coach called Gosta Holmer. During that time, Sweden’s national cross country running team was facing quite bad performances. 

Holmer wanted to try a method to boost their performance and he ended up with a unique solution – let each runner run sections of the race at a faster-than-average pace and then other sections at just above walking speed. He believed that Swedish runners needed to run with more freedom and swapping the speeds made the training run through Sweden's icy forests far more fun.

Fartlek’s training workout showed its results five years later when Swedish athlete and dedicated Fartleker, Gunder Hagg broke over 12 middle-distance world records. He also lowered the time for the world's fastest mile, i.e., or 1.6km to just 4 minutes and 1 second. 

Different Versions Of Fartlek Training Exercise 

Below are some popular Fartlek training versions you can try: 

  • The Football Field Version: As the name suggests, you need to do it in a standard field – a rectangular 100m by 50m football field. Take three laps around the outside at a normal pace for a warm-up. Then start Fartlek training by sprinting every short-length 50m, and then jog the long side of the field.
  • The iPod version: You don’t just need a football field for Fartlek training. You can include it in your exercises at home while listening to music. Simply sprint with max effort every time the music has a chorus. If you are going for a longer run, sprint every time the song changes.
  • The Mail Box Version: This is great Fartlek training for beginners. Just sprint between every third mailbox, and jog between the rest.
  • The Dog Park Version: If you love to run in big, woody parks, this version is great. All you need to do is jog normally until you see a dog. If you see one, start sprinting with max effort until you reach it and then jog to recover.
    Now, let’s see what are the benefits of Fartlek training that make it worth trying. 

What Are The Benefits Of Fartlek Training?

Here are some of the amazing benefits of Fartlek training that make it so popular: 

  • Easily adjustable: As you could easily guess from the different variations, Fartlek training can be manipulated to allow endless varieties. You can easily create your own Fartlek training for beginners or even experts by changing the amount of distance, time, fast bursts, recovery periods.
  • Body Strengthening: Fartlek training is given for improving not just your running endurance but also to strengthen your body so that it can keep up with the mechanic of racing.
  • Fat Burn: Just like strength training, you can also use Fartlek training to burn calories. Moreover, the varying speed also improves cardiovascular health better than running at a steady pace at the same time. 
  • Improved Sports Performance: Fartlek training meaning is all about fun and play. This means it is not necessary to use it only for running. You can start Fartlek training to improve your performance in other sports such as basketball, football, tennis, rugby, etc., 

Other than this, you can also enjoy the following benefits of Fartlek training:

  • It can improve body flexibility.
  • Better race tactics as you can improve your ability to surge fast ahead of your competitor to win the race. 
  • It also improves your mental strength and focus. 
  • It is playful and makes sure you don’t get bored during the workout. 


If you want to make your running fun and effective, there is no better way than Fartlek training. Since it is easily adjustable, you can create your own blend of jogging and sprint. If you are a beginner, have a mix of walking and jogging sections. And since you also know what are the advantages of Fartlek training, it will become easier to include in your day-to-day workouts. After all, the benefits are too much to ignore. Nowadays, fitness experts are available online. You can consult them to learn how to start Fartlek training and if there are any more methods.

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December 31, 2021

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