I love saying, fartlek. Go ahead and say it; it’s fun. Some people might look at you funny unless they’re familiar with the running lexicon or know that you frequently talk to yourself like I do. If you read Runner’s World or running blogs you’ll know that fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish, and doing a fartlek is as fun as it it to say.
Think about it. When was the last time you thought: I’m going to sprint to that light post or tree or bench or to the end of the block or down that hill? Kids do this all the time, sprinting for no reason other than just to run. That’s what a fartlek is. Pick a point in the distance and run as fast as you can to it, slow down to catch your breath, and then choose something else to run towards. Repeat until you’ve had enough. Fartleks are fun because it takes speed work off the track, and they can be as short or as long as you’d like.
If you prefer more structure, find a hilly route and do fartlek hill repeats like this: sprint uphill and jog down, repeating this pattern for your miles after a warm up and before a cool down. For a five mile fartlek, run a mile for a warm up, run fast for 1/2 mile or what looks like a half mile, walk/jog for a half mile, and repeat. Run a mile for a cool down. This can be modified for city blocks alternating sprinting and jogging each block. The possibilities are endless. So, go and do a fartlek for your next run.