Thursday, 3 October 2013

Fartlek, Tempo & Intervals

I'm just about recovered from Sundays 10k but why it's taken me 5 days I'll never know! My foot was better after just a couple of days but then the calf pain started followed by some random backside pain - probably from sitting on it too much.
Hopefully running will begin again tomorrow and surprisingly I'm looking forward to it - I actually WANT to run, how bizarre is that, it's certainly never been something I've wanted to do rather something I know I've needed to do.
Analysing it I can see it's the thrill of sundays race that has got me feeling like this, yes, it was a naff finish but I felt great for most of it and I cannot explain how bloody fantastic it felt to be overtaking people time after time - last time I did that run I could barely catch up with the walkers when I was running my fastest.
Anyway like I said I'm really looking forward to running but I have decided we need to get some more information on the best way to train - simply going out there and running is not cutting it for me now because a) I want to be able to sprint the finish and b) I don't want to feel dead at the end of it.
So with that in mind I took to the tinterweb to see what information I could find that would help me to improve my running times and leave me with enough energy to sprint the finish.
While I would love to say that I am now enlightened and have a firm plan in place it would be a complete lie to even suggest it!
Seriously have you guys ever checked the web for this kind of info? How on earth are you supposed to filter the good advice from the psychotic advice? And why do so many training plans for novice/intermediate 10k runners involve running 6 days a week? Sod that malarky - 6 days a week?

From what I can deduce from the masses of info I have found my weekly run needs to incorporate 1 Fartlek run (can't say that out loud without giggling - it's the 5 year old in me), a tempo session and a long run. All very nice but what the heck is Fartlek and/or tempo? Mr SG and I have done the odd speed session so is that different to Fartlek or tempo?

Ask coach Jenny, that's what I'll do! And here is how she explains the difference

"Fartlek Workouts are not only fun to say out loud, but they're fun to run. Fartlek is Swedish for "speed play," and that is exactly what it’s all about. Unlike tempo and interval work, fartlek is unstructured and alternates moderate-to-hard efforts with easy throughout. After a warmup, you play with speed by running at faster efforts for short periods of time (to that tree, to the sign) followed by easy-effort running to recover. It’s fun in a group setting as you can alternate the leader and mix up the pace and time. And in doing so, you reap the mental benefits of being pushed by your buddies through an unpredictable workout. The goal is to keep it free-flowing so you’re untethered to the watch or a plan, and to run at harder efforts but not a specific pace.
Bennies = Stress-free workout that improves mind-body awareness, mental strength, and stamina.
Tempo Workouts are like an Oreo cookie, with the warmup and cooldown as the cookie, and a run at an effort at or slightly above your anaerobic threshold (the place where your body shifts to using more glycogen for energy) as the filling. This is the effort level just outside your comfort zone—you can hear your breathing, but you're not gasping for air. If you can talk easily, you’re not in the tempo zone, and if you can’t talk at all, you’re above the zone. It should be at an effort somewhere in the middle, so you can talk in broken words. Pace is not an effective means for running a tempo workout, as there are many variables that can affect pace including heat, wind, fatigue, and terrain. Learn how to find your threshold and run a tempo workout that is spot on every time here.
Bennies = Increased lactate threshold to run faster at easier effort levels. Improves focus, race simulation, and mental strength.
Interval Workouts are short, intense efforts followed by equal or slightly longer recovery time. For example, after a warmup, run two minutes at a hard effort, followed by two to three minutes of easy jogging or walking to catch your breath. Unlike tempo workouts, you’re running above your red line and at an effort where you are reaching hard for air and counting the seconds until you can stop—a controlled fast effort followed by a truly easy jog. The secret is in the recovery as patience and discipline while you’re running easy allows you to run the next interval strong and finish the entire workout fatigued but not completely spent. Just like rest, your body adapts and gets stronger in the recovery mode.
Bennies = Improved running form and economy, endurance, mind-body coordination, motivation, and fat-burning."

Enlightened? No me neither!
There are also so many 10k running programs out there that it's hard to know which one will work best for you and I guess that just comes down to trial and effort.

I found this Harvey Walden program that looks pretty good on the face of it because it seems he only has you running 3 times a week. I would prefer 4 times a week maximum so it wouldn't be difficult to add a days run to this program.

Another 3 times a week 10k training programme can be found over at 'Lazy Runner' blog.

I also found information via an article written by Patti & Warren Finke titled "SLOW DOWN! and run your best 10k ever!" based on endurance and explains how to use your heart rate to get peak performance. Don't let the term "peak performance" make you think that the article is only relevant to serious runners though, it looks like basic information that can help any runner and or walker take the guesswork out of improving overall performance. I'm definitely going to use this information to finally get the hang of my watches HRM that I've never used.

As for a 10k programme though, I'm certainly going to work one out that suits myself and what I hope to achieve. My next 10k is not until next April/May so for the next few weeks I will simply concentrate of mileage rather than Fartlek or Tempo etc etc. by the time I need to have a schedule in place for next year I'll hopefully have gotten my head round alot of this.


  1. Hi there,
    Just noticed I've got a new follower. Thanks for visiting my blog, but not sure you'll learn anything from it. It's just more or less an online diary because my old brain hardly remembers anything nowadays unless I write it down!
    Since stopping serious training most of my runs are steady away with a fartlek session sandwiched in between, i.e. ten paces fast, jog, 20 paces fast, jog, 30 paces fat, jog - and so up to maybe a 100 paces fast, then come back down again before a steady run home. I also run intervals, usually 200m with 200m recovery. I hate tempos!
    Another of my followers did the Baxter's 10K last week, a lassie called Sheila who has a blog called Rambling On. You might like to read her report here: It's a bit shorter than yours!
    Keep on running

    1. I've learned something from you already - another runners take on Fartlek training :)
      I follow your blog because I found it interesting to read from the minute I got on the page, it's great to hear of other peoples experiences of running for the love of running and I enjoyed reading about your runs in Switzerland, plus I carry my camera with me everywhere too and I loved looking at your pictures.
      Thank you for popping in and leaving a comment and I will most definitely check out the blog you suggested :)

  2. Love the first image only I don't only FEEL fat I AM fat lol. I've got Epson Salts on my grocery list. I read it helps to soak the old tired feet in it and makes them feel good so I'm going to get me some!!

    1. You must let me know how that Epsom salts works out ;)