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Fartlek Training

Fartlek, developed in the 1930s, comes from the Swedish for 'Speed Play' and combines continuous and interval training. Fartlek allows the athlete to run at varying intensity levels over their choice distances. This type of training stresses both the aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways.

Fartlek for Runners

The following are a selection of fartlek sessions:

Watson Fartlek

Suitable for 10k, 5k, 3k and cross country.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Stride hard for 4 minutes with 1-minute jog recovery - repeat eight times
  • 10-minute cool-down

Saltin Fartlek

Suitable for 1500m, 5k and 3k.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Repeat 6 times - Stride hard for 3 minutes with 1-minute jog run recovery
  • 10-minute cool-down

Astrand Fartlek

Suitable for 800m.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Repeat 3 times - Maximum effort for 75 seconds, 150 seconds jog/run, a maximum effort for 60 seconds, 120 seconds jog run
  • 10-minute cool-down

Gerschler Fartlek

Suitable for getting fit quickly when combined with steady running.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Repeat 3 times - Stride hard for 30 seconds, jog 90 seconds. Repeat with 15 second decreases in recovery jog e.g. 30-90, 30-75, 30-60, 30-45, 30-30, 30-15 and 30-15-30
  • 10-minute cool-down

Hill Fartlek

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • Select a 2-mile hilly course. Repeat 3 times - Run hard up all hills twice before moving to the next hill, jog run between hills
  • 10-minute cool-down

Whistle Fartlek

Using a whistle, the coach controls the session over an 800 metres circumference grass area.

  • 10 minutes warm-up
  • When the whistle is blown, the athletes run hard until the whistle is blown again. Pyramid session of 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes with a 60-second jog run recovery between each run
  • 10-minute cool-down

Fartlek for games players

A fartlek session for games players should include sprinting, running, jogging and walking with variations in the direction of movement to fit in with their sport demands. This should involve controlling an object (e.g. football) or carry any implement (e.g. hockey stick, rugby ball) used in the sport.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1998) Fartlek Training [WWW] Available from: [Accessed