Training with changes in pace while running allows you to challenge your limits and break the routine. The technique called fartlek (Swedish for speed game), involves running a certain period of time or a certain distance at a speed and then reducing or increasing it, as the case may be. That is, change the pace while running and speed up when we can and slow down when we need to rest. But, should you try to improve your distance or speed?

It is also useful for runners to vary the type of terrain, to include slopes that are not too steep and to practice running even in different climatic conditions. In this way, the benefits of this type of training are combined with personal contingencies and skills.

The main argument of those who use this alternating rhythm running technique is the ability to regulate effort. By changing the pace and increasing the speed, we make our body work harder.

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Benefits of pace changes while running

Among the main advantages that we will obtain from the application of this training or competition method, we find:

  •    Greater aerobic capacity
  •    Less effort required to complete a lap.
  •    It allows you to make progress: it prevents the body from getting used to a constant pace and requires more effort.
  •    Beginner runners may have a real notion of their limitations and shortcomings to improve.
  •    The body adapts to new challenges and looks for ways to efficiently manage energy.
  •    The runner learns to interpret the signals of the body. Then, when in a race you have to rethink your strategy for a specific reason – for example, fatigue or injury – you will have the tools to decide.
  •    Muscle endurance: the body learns to recycle lactic acid and thus delays the onset of fatigue.
  •    It fights monotony and prevents training from becoming a boring routine.

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What do you need to train like this?

First of all, it wouldn’t hurt to get a coach to plan your workout. This way, you will have a professional perspective on how to proceed when implementing pace changes.

On the other hand, it is obvious that this technique requires two fundamental attitudes:

1. Maximum Effort: The purpose of pace changes while running is to improve physical performance, not shorten the workout to get home earlier. It’s very good that you decide to speed up and vary the intensity and distance in each session, but it shouldn’t involve a lighter workout.

On the contrary, for fartlek to provide optimal results, you need to make sure you put a lot of effort into it. The key to all improvements lies in breaking our limits. It is not enough to be better than others and it does not matter if we do not equal them: it is about being the best version of ourselves.

2. Personal Honesty: Hand in hand with the above, we need to know our bodies and administer resources honestly. Lying and ignoring your limitations could lead to unwanted results or, worse, injury.

Being too flexible, on the other hand, will negatively affect your growth as well. This is why many also resort to the figure of a coach to apply the changes of pace; therefore, avoiding in this way to alter the interpretation of the results.

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How to incorporate this method into your training

There are several techniques for implementing pace changes while running. Logically, everyone includes a proper warm-up before picking up the pace.

One of these techniques involves taking 10 steps – counted in one leg – at a good pace and another 10 at a moderate pace. So, the same but with 20 steps. The idea is to increase 10 steps at a time until you reach 100 at each speed . Once you have achieved this and if you are still out of breath, you can gradually reduce your pace with the same criteria.

On the other hand, you can also increase the rate until your breathing is stopped and hold this rhythm for a period of 3-6 minutes. Then, jog until you resume breathing almost normally and repeat the previous process.

If your physique allows it, repeat this technique for 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t worry if you don’t have much stamina yet; fostering this growth is precisely the goal of pace changes when running.

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How often should you train with pace changes?

Coaches recommend using this technique once or even twice a week. This is due to the fact that it is a very demanding method and that, as we have pointed out above, it can generate muscle injuries if the efforts are not measured correctly.

Ultimately, changes in pace while running can lead to great progress. Plus, they’re a great way to do different workouts and break the monotony that can get in your way. Do not hesitate to try this method and compare the results with previous performance to evaluate its effectiveness.

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