Types of fartleks
The most basic fartlek is based on landmarks or just how you’re feeling (classic fartlek). For example: you might sprint to a tree that you see a little ways away, then walk or jog to the tree (or stop sign, or another landmark), and repeat.
A classic fartlek can also be done with just perceived effort, so you’d run or sprint hard until you feel like stopping or you can’t continue, then recover. And repeat.
With a classic fartlek, there are no set times to run or pace to meet, so some people leave their tracking devices and watches at home during these workouts. Some other types of fartleks are based on time, so you’d want a watch for those.
Here are a few other types of fartlek workouts:
- Classic aerobic: a classic fartlek where your higher intensity intervals are below lactate/acidosis threshold so your entire workout is within the aerobic range.
- Classic anaerobic: a classic fartlek where your high intensity segments are above lactate threshold so your high intervals are anaerobic and your recovery bouts are aerobic.
- Ladder (1-2-3): this type of fartlek is set up so that your sprints/higher intensity segments increase as time goes on. So for example: 1 minute sprint, 1 minute jog, 2 minute sprint, 2 minute jog, etc. You can make this fartlek go as high as you like.
- 3-2-1 (reverse ladder): The reverse ladder fartlek is opposite the ladder fartlek so your times start higher and decrease. This is a perfect way to front-load your highest efforts for the beginning of your workout when you’re fresh (after a warmup of course!) and taper towards your cooldown.
- Pyramid: these intervals are like combining the ladder and reverse ladder to go in an ascending then descending pattern (like 1-2-3-2-1) like a pyramid. Your interval times will increase then decrease. This is a great workout for warming up your body with shorter intervals at first, then increasing them, then decreasing intervals as you approach the end of your workout.
- Fartlek based on music: this is a fun fartlek and a great one for the treadmill! Whether you’re running outside or inside, you can sprint during the chorus of a song, and recover during the verses (or vise versa). Just make sure that if you’re running outside with music, you put safety first.