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Put a fun spin on your fartlek training with this workout

Build your speed on the track with jogging bends and striding straights

Have you heard of the bends and straights workout? Bends and straights are a popular style of fartlek training for middle-distance runners to improve their strength and endurance late in the race.

Track Workout
Photo: Matt Stetson

Fartlek is a Swedish word that translates to speed play. This type of training involves workouts involving changes in speed and effort. Fartlek workouts can be unstructured – where the distance and time interval are picked randomly – or entirely structured, with each interval at a set distance or time and a fixed recovery period. The goal for fartlek training is to improve your ability to put on a late surge in races and overtake a competitor when tired, or to help you sprint to the finish.

The workout

10 to 15 laps of jogging bends and striding straights.

(The workout should be done on a 200m or 400m athletics track to control the length of each interval.)

If the workout is done on a 400m track, you should sprint 100m, jog the curve 100m, sprint 100m, and jog the next curve 100m. If you do not have access to a track, you can do a fixed version of this workout with 20-second sprints and 40-second jogs over 10-15 reps.

The bends and straights workout is perfect for runners who are training for a 5K or 10K race, or are generally looking to improve their speed and racing tactics. The constant change of pace simulates the ups and downs of a 5K or mid-distance track race. Try to keep your sprint pace slightly faster than your goal 5K pace and keep the jog pace slower than your easy run pace.

Keep your sprints and jogs on the first five laps controlled to help you complete the entirety of the workout.