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Speed Play

I Feel The Need…The Need For Speed! After a hard winter here in Massachusetts, it’s good to see the pavement again…no ice, no snow (but plenty of sand still). With winter (hopefully) behind us, it’s time to start thinking about running outdoors again. I run outside year round, but for many, winter is a time to turn to treadmills and indoor running. Although running on a treadmill is better than not running at all, it just isn’t the same as hitting the road. You don’t feel the wind, you don’t have up hills and down hills to challenge you and…you don’t have to pull yourself on a treadmill…the belt does it for you.

Now that people are hitting the roads again and thinking about running that first 5k (or longer) of the spring, it’s time to start adding some speed work into your routines. Even if you are just running a few miles per week to keep yourself in shape, doing a little speed work can vary your program, burn a few more calories in a short period of time and help you build some strength.

Probably the easiest type of speed work to start do is Fartlek. 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. Fartlek sessions can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting. Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise and is a great way to get yourself in shape for other sports.
One method I like to use involves no stop watch and no official measurements…but it does involve telephone poles:
1) Start out with a light run for 5 minutes
2) After your warm up, pick an interval (lets use 5 telephone poles as an example)
3) Pick up your pace to a quicker run or even a light sprint for the interval (5 telephone poles)
4) Recover from the interval by returning to your light run for another interval of telephone poles.
5) Repeat this a few times until you are moderately winded and then you can recover by returning to a light jog.
As you get in better running shape, you can easily intensify this training by using longer intervals, incorporating uphill running or increasing the speed of which you are running…
So whether you are an experienced road racer or someone that likes to run just for fun, try adding some Fartlek to your program.

Michael Vacon, PT…avid runner