Workout of the Week: 067 – New Year Fartlek

Hello 2021! Wow, that was quite a year we just had and this workout is a great holidays fartlek session designed to remind us all of that pure enjoyment of running free.


4x5mins @ about your 10k race effort

2min jog recoveries

Terrain: Undulating trail that isn’t too technical under foot.  

Feels: New Year, New You!

What better way to kick off the New Year than with a fartlek session over your favourite trails? Find somewhere stunning to do this workout, switch off the GPS, and tune in to that incredible feeling of running fast and free.    


The reason we have you locked in at your 10k race effort is that we’re in the middle of a block of work specifically focused on your 10k race pace.

This workout in particular allows just enough recovery between efforts to keep the heart rate in check and make the metabolic result similar to what you’d get with a sustained tempo run at a slower pace. However, we’re also getting the mechanical benefit of keeping the paces reasonably honest at 10k effort.


Remember, the key to a good fartlek workout is to not worry so much about exact paces, but to ditch the GPS, don’t worry about Strava and just run by feel in a beautiful setting.



Being the season of New Year’s resolutions, it can be tempting at this time of year to look at a negative in your life and/or training and aim to cancel it out. This can be helpful, but I find the best New Year’s resolutions actually focus on boosting a positive that you’re already doing.

While on holidays, I was going through my memorabilia box and discovered a high school personality and competencies test I did when I was 17. Reading it I was shocked.

60-70% of the content and recommendations focused on weaknesses and only a minority on strengths. I can’t believe my school was dishing this out to their school leavers just before being let loose into the big, bad world!

Instead, I’m a firm believer that understanding and celebrating our strengths is so much more empowering than just trying to fix weaknesses. When you make a conscious decision to enhance a strength you get an immediate intrinsic kickback—a feeling of “yes, I was made for this”. As opposed to when you just cancel out weaknesses and there’s this feeling of friction and of going against what comes natural to you.

And look at the greats in any field. Einstein, Mozart, LeBron, Federer. Do you think they were just had their weaknesses pointed out to them and asked to correct them? No, they all must have had someone identifying their strengths and encouraging them to grow in them.

My theory is that by fixing weaknesses alone you have the opportunity to become average, but by primarily enhancing strengths you have the opportunity to become great.

So, in running what sort of strengths can we emphasise this year?

We’re all different, so it’s important that you understand your unique strong points (of which, everyone has several!). A coach will help identify your particular strengths, but these may include the following (with tactics in brackets for how to emphasise them):

  • Sprint speed (include more faster workouts and spend a couple of months each year focusing on shorter track races).
  • Hill strength (look for ways of incorporating hills into your workouts e.g. turn a track interval session into hill reps or undulating fartleks or do your strides sessions uphill).
  • Mobility (translate that good range of motion into functional mobility with barbell strength training, hurdle drills and sprinting).
  • Cross training (use your other sport or exercise as a form of cross training to either contribute more to your aerobic base or add more intensity, mobility and/or variety to your training).