Run Faster with Fartleks

As a runner, I’m always looking at ways to improve my speed.

Speed comes in many different forms, the three main beings:

  • Intervals
  • Hills
  • Fartlek

In this new Run Faster series, I will give you tips and tricks to introduce speed into your running workouts without being too scary or overwhelming.


Fartlek is the Swedish word for speed play.

They similar to Intervals, but can be structured or unstructured.

If you are just starting out with experimenting with different paces, then fartleks are a great way to introduce speed to your workout in a fun way.

Pair up fartleks with the Rate Of Perceived effort scale (also known as RPE).  1 being easy, 10 being maxed out, and you can have an enjoyable yet challenging run.

Fartlek Examples

Peri, Portia, and Penny use fartlek during their weekly group runs.

Structured Fartlek

    • Warm-up – 10 minutes easy
    • Run 3 blocks at an RPE of 7, run 2 blocks at an RPE of 3.
    • Run 2 blocks at an RPE of 8, run the next block at an RPE of 2.
    • Cooldown – 10 minutes easy

Unstructured fartlek

    • Warm-up – 10 minutes easy
    • Run to the water tower easily.
    • Run to the big tree, hard.
    • Water to the next driveway.
    • Run to the playground at a steady pace.

The goal with fartleks is to keep it free-flowing, where you run hard, but not a specific pace.


Next week we shall wrap up the series with a fast finish.