The Fartlek Session – Part 5

We are going to cover to quite different sessions this time. One requires a constant varying of pace throughout and the other which demands a very narrow pace range. Both skills and adaptions that are required on any given race day.

Running Sessions (4)

Session Seven – Changing Gear

Still a fartlek session, but now we are mixing up the length of the efforts because, in a real race situation, things are rarely uniform and we are constantly required to change gear.

To begin with, the warm up. This should be more than just a light jog to loosen up the muscles. You want to end your warm up period at optimum operating temperature. You need to be ready to lift the pace comfortably when you are done.

Start nice and easy, but gradually increase the effort as your body warms up. Rule of thumb would be starting at around 65-70% of maximum HR and end the warm up period at around 85%. 10-15 minutes will be sufficient because we don’t want to be fatigued before we start the main set of our session.

For this session we are going to run intervals of 1:00; 2:00 and 3:00 with only a 1:00 floating recovery period in-between each. We are going to run three sets and change the order of the intervals in each set.

The order will be:

* 1:00; 2:00; 3:00

* 2:00; 3:00; 1:00

* 3:00; 1:00; 2:00

We do this continuously so there are no gaps between sets and the standard recovery period of 1:00 applies no matter what the length of the preceding or following interval.

The idea is to change the pace according to the length of the interval. This way we are never able to settle into a steady rhythm and we are constantly placing demands on our muscles and cardio-vascular system.

There are a number of ways that you can alter the session to change the demands. You can change the length of the three intervals in the set, or add another set starting from 1:00 again. All depending on your level of condition and the event that you are training for.


Always have a decent warm down period after running at intensities like this. Again 10-15:00 and this should be done opposite to the warm up. Gradually go easier and easier and you can even end off with a few meters of walking.

A good stretch afterwards will also help with your recovery and be good for maintaining your flexibility and range of motion in your joints.

Session Eight: Tempo Session

To a lot of runners the tempo session may mean simply running at a set pace, close to race pace, for an extended period of time. That is certainly one way to do it, but these efforts can often become race level efforts and we must bear in mind that we only have a limited number of those in a season. Rather save those for when there is someone to witness our pace and a medal and a results list at the end.

This time we will look at a tempo run that is aimed at a longer race. We will use a half marathon as the goal for this one but you can adjust the distances and pace for whatever your goal race distance.

For a 21.1km we need to be able to finish strong and be able to maintain good form even though our legs are fatiguing. This session will be aimed at someone who is running a 1:30-1:45 half marathon.

To start we want to ease ourselves into the run and allow the legs to loosen up a bit from the training that you may have done in the preceding days. A nice relaxed jog building into a moderate pace so that your HR rises to around 70% of your maximum after about 10:00.

Then, for the next hour you want to lift your pace and run at a nice steady, but not half marathon race pace. Probably around 0:10 per kilometre slower than your projected half marathon race pace. This pace should not require too much concentration as you will be running comfortably and within yourself but faster than an easy, recovery effort.

At the end of the hour, slow gradually and walk for a minute or so to allow your HR to drop below 60%. Then do 10 X 200m repetitions at your projected half marathon race pace. There is no need to go faster and this should feel pretty comfortable over such a short distance. You want to focus on holding great form and focus on your body position. Have 100m walking and then 100m jogging as a recovery period.

Finish off your run with another 10:00 of easy running to cool down.


This is a nice session to do from your local gym. End the hour steady period back at the health club and stride through and onto a treadmill for the 200s. Run with an elevation of 1-2% and then set the pace slightly faster than your 21.1km pace because you will be keeping up with the mill instead of generating the pace.

This session is more enhanced if you can see yourself in the mirror on the treadmill. Then you will be able to keep an eye on your posture and form while performing the intervals.

In the next and final part of this series we’ll cover negative split runs and the pre-race run.

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