I first learned about this fartlek session in coach Brad Hudson’s Little Black Book (Redux). He calls it an “introduction to power endurance” workout and recommends using it early in a training cycle when an athlete is still building fitness but ready to handle more work. The pickups are relatively short—1-3 minutes in duration—and the intensity—10K effort—should manageable for that chunk of time. The “recovery” intervals, which are run at more of a moderate training pace than a slow jog, are equal in duration to the work interval that preceded it. I like to use a version of this workout every few weeks during a half-marathon or marathon buildup because it forces the athlete to stay engaged the entire time and serves as a nice substitute for a standard threshold session. Here are the details:
What: 1′-2′-3′-2′-1′-2′-3′-2′-1′ pickups at 10K effort/pace. After each pickup, slow down to your normal training pace for the same amount of time as the one you just completed, i.e., 1′ on/1′ off, 2′ on/2′ off, etc.
Warmup/Cooldown: Warm up before the workout with 15-30 minutes of easy running followed by a set of drills and 4-6 x 20-second strides (i.e., accelerate for 5 seconds, spend the next 10 seconds at near-top speed, and then gradually decelerate to a jog over the final 5 seconds. Catch your breath for 40-60 seconds and then repeat 3-5 more times). Cool down after the workout with 5-15 minutes of easy running.
Why: This is a great “re-introduction” workout early in a training cycle. It can also serve as a nice substitute for a standard threshold session in the thick of a half-marathon or marathon block.
Where: Road or runnable trail is preferable for this one but it can also be completed on a track or treadmill.
When: Early in a training cycle when an athlete is still building fitness but ready to handle more work, and/or every few weeks in a half-marathon or marathon block.