Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fartlek Friday 1/1 fartlek or 'Kenyan Standard'

  This weeks fartlek friday is one of my favorite general fitness and/or half marathon workouts.  I call it the 'Kenyan Standard' because it seems every time I read a training log from a Kenyan or someone who has been training in Kenya or read an article about someones training in kenyan they invariable at some point do this fartlek or something very close.

  This fartlek is the definition of simple but don't mistake that for easy.  When you get to where you can knock this one out and just keep your training rolling like it was just another normal workout you are getting into mean shape.

  What it is 1 hour, give or take of 1min hard, 1 min steady, which I would say is on the quick end of your normal training pace or a bit quicker.  This means you are going to do 30 mins of hard running and with full one minute recoveries a strong runner will often end up running 5k pace or even faster for those one minute reps, particularly if you do a session like this regularly.  This builds enormous muscular endurance.  If your not sure why you need that or what its impact on your racing is I want you to think of high level 10k or half marathon you have scene or read about where the big guns drop some crazy fast last mile.  I'm not talking about the flying last lap, though that is part of it too, but I'm talking about someone dropping a 4:20 for the 13th mile of a half marathon.  To have that pop when you are TIRED is to have max muscular endurance.

  Because the rests are run relatively quickly you also are going to have a pretty quick pace and by extension get in a moderate long tempo as well.  Based on how I have run 52 to 54 mins for 10 miles like this on flat course I can imagine that some of the top guys could cover close to 20k in a session like this, which would be a 4:50 mile average.

  Now you don't need to be that fast to take advantage of this session but you had best be used to long hard workouts.  If your normal workout is 12x400 and you go out and jump into a session like this and you will wish your mama never met your father the next morning!

  This session is for the endurance minded athlete it works great as a half marathon workout as an endurance bent 10k workout or as a workout to maintain general fitness during marathon training.

  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Anonymous said...

Interesting workout. Do you think a low mileage runner focused more on 5k and 10k would benefit from a cut down say 20 minute version of this workout? said...

Yes I think this workout works as a 20 or 30 minute workout but you lose a lot of the endurance benefits. One of the biggest differences I see between the very fast, national and world class athletes and the athletes on the second tier and below is the volume of quality work of all sorts they tend to do. This is particularly true with the africans. In a given week most of them are running dozens of paces, sure they do the same two to four hard efforts as the rest of us tend to do but those efforts are often of much greater volume and they do 2 to 4 moderate efforts, that incorporate a bunch of different paces and they do some much slower stuff as well.

I know that is a bit off topic but I felt like adding it as an explanation why I focused on the workout at full length only.

Fish Story Guide Service said...

Hey Nate,
I am enjoying reading your thoughts on all of these workouts. I have been following the general rule of "Tempo Tuesday" and "Fartlek Friday" for a few weeks now and it amazes me how fast the fitness is returning. I tend to do most of my Fartleks as Hill Fartleks. So I just pick a really hilly course and with each hill, I just pick it up. I stay smooth on the flats and downs and most always wind up with a nice quick total time and feel great doing it. Keep up the good work and look forward to reading more of your workout ideas! -Pat Ard said...

Pat- If you really want to focus on generally improving your fitness than you would be hard pressed to do better than a tempo and a fartlek as your main sessions, may I suggest mixing in some unique long runs on the weekend, either make them a long progression or a long tempo at a pace half way between your tempo pace and your normal long run pace. Also strides whenever you can.
The fartlek and tempo are great for big gains in fitness because you generally find the perfect effort and don't push to hard. By staying on the correct side of the effort line you get huge gains in threshold which is the most important thing for general fitness.
I LOVE the hill fartlek. Hammer the ups! Steady on the flats and downs. Awesome session. I used to live by Phillips Academy and they have a 1.5 mile loop in their bird sanctuary that either way you run it has one long hard climb and one medium long climb and I used to go in there and do loops of that. It is also a GREAT session when you are struggling for motivation because you don't have to pick the distance of the reps or the rests. The course does it for you!
keep up the great work!

Fish Story Guide Service said...

Good Stuff Nate! Thanks for the input, it is always appreciated! Unfortunately, I tweaked something in my right inner / upper ankle while on my long run on Sunday. Not sure what I did, but I needed to take Mon and Tuesday off to rest it. I couldn't even touch that area. I did a jog 2 mile today and it felt ok but not great... I am planning a slow build back up. Either way if things are not too bad, I will be sticking with the system! Ill keep checking in.