How to Do Fartlek Runs

man running fast

Fartlek drills are informal speed play workouts that are a great way for beginner runners to get introduced to speed work. Here's how to do a simple beginner level fartlek workout.

  1. After a 5 to 10-minute warm up, speed up to faster than your comfortable, conversational pace. To increase your speed, start pumping your arms higher (swinging them back and forth at the shoulder, not the elbow). Your breathing shouldn't be totally out of control, but don't be afraid if it gets heavier.
  2. Run at this pace to a nearby landmark, such as a parked car, a telephone pole, or a stop sign.
  3. Once you've reached your landmark, slow your pace to below your normal running pace, until you've fully recovered and your breathing has returned to normal.
  4. Then return to running at your comfortable pace, and repeat the same pattern of fast segment, short recovery, comfortable pace until you've completed four to six fast segments. Vary the time of your fast intervals by picking landmarks that are anywhere from about 10 seconds to 90 seconds away. As your fitness improves, you can increase the interval time/distance.


  1. If you're doing a fartlek run with a running partner, you can take turns picking the landmarks. You can share the landmark ahead of time, or surprise each other by just staying, "Stop", once you reach it.

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