Workout of the Week: 038 – The 3-Level Fartlek

This workout is the natural extension to Zane Robertson’s fartlek session last week, with a tweak in either direction on the endurance-speed scale.


The 3-Level Fartlek

5x2mins @ 10k effort (1min jogs)
5x1min @ 3k effort (1min jogs)
5x30secs fast (90secs jogs)

Terrain: Undulating mixed terrain. Stable under foot.

Feels: Relax and find your rhythm.

In this workout you’ll feel the pinch in two different ways: 1) From the length of the session and duration of the early intervals leading to accumulated fatigue. 2) From the speed you’re going to crank out at the end. In both situations aim to stay relaxed and find a good rhythm.


We’re trying develop your endurance in this session so you’ll feel pretty aerobically taxed at the 25-minute mark, after your 5x2mins and 5x1min. But then we want to see if you can still bring everything together at the end and run good, controlled and fast 30-second efforts.


Be sure to be fully recovered between each of the 5x30secs efforts, so you may like to take more than 90 seconds, or even walk these recoveries. This is so you can truly practice running them well. Also, find somewhere stable underfoot so you aren’t at risk of tripping or rolling an ankle when running fast.


Have you ever felt that your running just isn’t improving? That the times just stay the same no matter how much work you put in? Let’s explore what you can do.

The first point to grasp is the fact that improvement in running, and in almost all forms of fitness, is very rarely linear. It goes up suddenly and then stays the same for a few weeks or goes backwards for a period, before spiking up again. So, if you’re feeling in a rut with those times, be patient, there might just be a spike coming up.

However, if that spike refuses to materialise, then it’s time to look at the training stimuli you’re giving your body and your mind. This means looking for dials that haven’t been cranked up in your training. In order of priority, these are the dials that I’m looking for when I talk to a runner whose performances are stagnated:

  • Aerobic Fitness: How are those long runs coming along? And how about your overall mileage/time-on-feet each week? These things will build your aerobic engine that is the key for running any race 800m and up.
  • Recovery: If you find yourself plateaued or even going backwards, despite doing heaps of running, there’s a good chance you’re just over-trained and not allowing enough recovery. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, having good nutrition and allowing time between key sessions for good recovery.
  • Top End Speed: This is one of the great glass ceilings on your running potential and it always surprises me how many runners that want to run fast don’t work on running fast. If you’re not injured, your running week should almost certainly have a strides session in there somewhere.
  • New Stimulus: Hills, running in groups, a couple of races, plyometrics, weights, cross training … I’ve found all of these tweaks to your training can shake things up and give your running a new lease on life. Introduce only one at a time and talk to your coach about what new stimuli you might be missing.