Workout of the Week: 036 – The Step-Up Fartlek

Train that inner tiger with this workout so you’re ready to pounce even when the going gets tough!


3 sets of:

[6mins @ lactate threshold (your 1-hour race effort),

2mins @ 5k effort,

2mins jog.]

Terrain: Undulating mixed terrain. Keep it fun!

Feels: Comfortable with discomfort.

With two main goals to this workout—(1) to build endurance and (2) to be able to speed up when tired—we’re asking the body to get comfortable with a niggling effort level and then challenge it to speed up. This can feel great on the first rep, but gets pretty challenging on the third and final step up to 5k effort.


The ability to sprint when you’re tired is a skill that can be learnt. But you’ve got to practice. This workout will really test your body and mind to find that extra gear when you’re feeling pretty fatigued. And it will start developing some muscle memory that will get you kicking your way to exciting finishes once racing resumes.


We do plenty of fartlek style workouts. Do you have a fun trail circuit near you that you can do these sessions at? If not, I’d really challenge you to hunt one out.

Spend some time on Google Maps and Strava Heatmap to find routes in your neighbourhood that will get you offroad and onto all sorts of terrain and surfaces under foot. These spaces are great for injury prevention and make fartlek sessions so much more fun!


So you’re doing the Workout of the Week—awesome!—but what else should you be doing in your running week? 

First of all, if you have a running coach or good relationship with a sports medical practitioner, this is a question you’ll put to them first, as everyone is different.

Then, what I’d be looking for, in order of priority are the following in the typical runner’s training week:

  • Strides session: Short bursts of fast controlled runs designed to develop technique (e.g. 5×20 seconds) performed towards the end of a 40-minute easy run.
  • Longer run: A run that is designed to develop your ability to go longer and build your aerobic fitness. Run it easy.
  • Strength & Mobility. Especially focusing on hips, back, abdominals and ankle strength and stability.
  • Intentional Recovery: Whether it’s a massage, a hot tub or ice tub, foam rolling or yoga—something that will leave you feeling great and help your body relax and recover.
  • Active R&R: Doing some other form of exercise that isn’t running and isn’t stressful physically or emotionally e.g. walking with the family, surfing, or playing golf. Really does help massively with recovery and holistic fitness.