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The half-marathon fartlek

Playing with speed to build strength and fitness

Emily Setlack

I love doing fartlek runs, as these sessions provide an opportunity to run on my favourite local trails and lock into a rhythmic tempo without focusing on hitting splits.

A fartlek is defined as “continuous training with interval training,” and the word is Swedish for “speed play.” I get excited when my coach, Jim Finlayson, pencils a fartlek into the plan. This is one of my favourite workouts to do in a build-up to a goal half-marathon. It feels invigorating to meander along some of my favourite local running paths, and the bursts of speed help wake up my tired legs during a heavy and intense cycle of training.

Each workout helps build strength and fitness, and sessions like these make you stronger for the next one. Try not to fret about pace, but rather, look at these sessions as building blocks to becoming a stronger, healthier and more consistent runner.

How to warm up
I like to keep the fartlek continuous by doing a 20- to 30-minute warmup jog and then going directly into the workout and cooldown without a break. A good warmup helps prepare the body for the quicker tempo and rhythm to come.

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