Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: a Simple (Hard) Fartlek Workout

>> Thursday, April 22, 2021

I've had some good run workouts lately.

I wrote about my 5k "time trial" that I did last Friday. And in yesterday's post, wrote about my fastest long run in about 2 years (which happened 10 days ago).

Well, just a few days ago, I was heading out for my weekly long run. After having 2 SOLID runs last week, I figured I'd maybe take it easier on this long run. "Oh, I'll *just* do a fartlek" I thought. I was so naive.

FIRST of all, it's a bad idea to try something new on an "easier" day.

SECONDLY, I knew this as a (version of a) workout that Coach Jen gave me back in 2010 when she helped get me to sub-60 at the TC 10 Mile. So I should have known it was going to suck. Coach Jen loved to torture me. (And I loved it.)

I looked back in my training log, and I remember the workout differently than what it ACTUALLY was. It was more random than I remembered. I knew it had varying time-based efforts of 1-5 minutes of HARD running with then 1/2 that amount of time running EASY. I wanted to do "efforts" of 3:00, 2:00, 4:00, 1:00, and 5:00, and then take a longer rest before repeating that again. So hard for 3 mins, easy for 1:30, h for 2, e for 1, h for 4, easy for 2, hard for 1, easy for 0:30, and hard for 5. Then a longer 5 mins of easy running before starting it over again. It's easy to remember if you think about how the times are staggered.

After a 1.5 mile warm-up, here's what my splits looked like:

[This shows time first and (pace in parentheses) and then total distance of that split on the right. Hard efforts in bold, and recovery efforts normal. My Garmin takes 1/2 mile splits, so if I had to run more than that, they are added up.]

2:57 (5:55) + 0:03 (7:14) = 0.50
1:31 (7:42) = 0.20
2:01 (6:07) = 0.33
1:00 (7:25) = 0.14
3:01 (6:00) + 0:59 (5:55) = 0.67
1:59 (7:28) = 0.27
0:59 (5:17) = 0.19
0:31 (7:19) = 0.07
2:52 (5:44) + 2:07 (5:48) = 0.87

3:49 + 1:11 = 0.66 miles

3:01 (6:04) = 0.50
1:30 (7:31) = 0.20
1:59 (6:03) = 0.33
0:59 (7:41) = 0.13
3:08 (6:17) + 0:52 (6:23) = 0.64
1:59 (8:03) = 0.25
0:59 (5:35) = 0.18
0:30 (7:57) = 0.06
3:05 (6:11) + 1:54 (6:10) = 0.81

I was hurting pretty quickly in the first half of this, so I was going to LET myself run the second half easier. Afterall, my previous run before this was the all-out 5K, and I didn't want to injury myself!

Adding up the the times and distances, I covered 2.56 miles in the first 14:59 of HARD running (5:51 pace), and 2.46 in the second "set" in 14:58 of HARD running (6:05 pace).

And in the EASY running, it's even more lopsided, but still not drastically different: I covered 0.68 miles in 5:01 in the first set (7:23 pace), and 0.64 miles in 4:58 in the second set (7:46 pace).

The second "set" felt MUCH worse than the first, but the times don't reflect that as much as I was feeling it.

The most shocking thing about this workout was the cool-down. Maybe 1 or 2 times a month I'll have a run that will dip slower than 8:00 pace for a half mile split near the end. After this hard running, I had FIVE STRAIGHT HALF MILE SPLITS that were slower than 8:00 pace: 4:02, 4:12, 4:16, 4:14, and 4:05. Yikes. That shows how beat up I was.


Lots of splits for this fartlek workout. Blue = slower, and green/orange = faster.
The colors highlight which splits were easy and which were harder.


Pace chart.


Same pace chart with the 10 "efforts" highlighted. 3 mins, 2, 4, 1, and 5, then repeated.

Here's a post about the last time I did this workout. It was 3+ years ago, and I only did 1 round (instead of the 2 I did earlier this week). And I was happy to see my distances were similar: back then my first fartlek was 0.01 farther, but the rest were farther this week! (The last effort by 0.04 miles.) AND THEN I did a whole nother round after that first set earlier this week. So they were a bit faster, AND I doubled the workout!

So try out some sort of this fartlek workout sometime! Create a list of harder efforts, and then do 1/2 that amount of time as your easier efforts. IT'S ROUGHER THAN IT SOUNDS! Doing this workout 1x through was something I did now-and-then since coach gave me it 11 years ago, but I think this is the first time doing TWO rounds since maybe 2010! One round of this HARDER would be a good "speed day," and easing back a bit and doing 2 rounds SLIGHTLY easier is a good way to mix up your long runs.

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that highlight workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE. As always, check back for some "Friday Funnies" tomorrow!

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