Runners are always on the lookout for new ways to mix up their training routines. One great way to add a twist to longer runs is by incorporating a technique called "fartlek."
A Swedish word meaning “speed play,” Fartlek running is simple but effective: Run at a normal tempo for a set duration of time and then increase the pace to a speed where you’re close to your lactic threshold.
Generally, fartlek runs are longer, usually 30 minutes or more, and incorporate eight or more accelerations. The beauty of the fartlek run is that you don’t have to map out any distances; you can either go by time or by feel. If you decide to go with time then start with a 40-minute run, and every four minutes go hard for one minute. The workout will look something like this:
If you decide to go by feel, run a familiar route and count telephone poles. Fartlek run in this fashion will look something like this: 10 telephone poles light, 3 poles hard, 10 poles light, 5 hard, etc.
There are many ways you can run fartlek; use your imagination and see if you can come up with something new each week. Not only will it help take the drudgery out of training, but by doing a new workout each week you will strengthen different muscles, making your chances of improving that much greater.