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Your Weekly Running Workout: Short and Fast Fartlek

If you only have 30 minutes to run, you can’t always make it to the track and back with time for a full workout. Fartlek runs can be done on the roads or trails, hilly or flat terrain, so you can log some faster miles anywhere – no track required.

Short and fast intervals maximize a short run. The benefit of training at 5K race effort or slightly harder is that you are working hard enough to improve your VO2max, which is your maximum aerobic capacity. By improving your VO2max, you raise your aerobic capacity – which means you become a faster runner at any distance.

To further increase the intensity of this workout, the recovery is shortened to just half the time of the hard interval. This means the fatigue of the hard intervals will catch up with you more quickly, so don’t try to all-out sprint the first one and then try to hang on. Do know that by the time the 30 minutes are up, you’ll be ready to rest and recover!

Since the warm-up is brief, be sure to start slow and gradually ease into the run. Do not skip the warm-up even if you are short on time, as the warm up helps increase blood flow to your working muscles and will decrease the risk of injury that can come from doing speedwork.

The easy running should be slow and comfortable enough that you could carry on a conversation – approximately 2 minutes per mile or more slower than your 5K pace. The hard intervals should be run at 5K race effort – hard enough that your breathing is labored, but not so hard that you struggle to finish the total number of intervals. Jog the easy intervals or walk them to steady your breathing between the hard intervals.

The Workout

  • Warm up with 8 minutes of easy running.
  • Run 6 repeats of 2 minutes hard, 1 minute recovery.
  • Cool down with 4 minutes of easy running.

Click here for the workout with helpful audio cues on Runkeeper. 

Laura Norris

About the author:
Laura Norris

Laura Norris is a certified running coach, distance runner, and blogger over at This Runner's Recipes. She loves helping runners achieve their personal best through providing useful, well-researched information on running and nutrition. Beyond running, Laura enjoys craft beer, hiking with her husband and dog, and cooking.

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