We discuss the benefits of conversation pace and fartlek running, and how to incorporate these two types of runs into your training.
Conversation Pace Run
Conversation pace running should be a staple to any training plan. In fact, 75-80% of your weekly mileage should be done at conversation pace. So what exactly does that mean?
Think about a normal run for you. Are you breathing heavily and struggling to get any words out? Or are you relaxed, breathing easy and feeling good?
Conversation pace is that relaxed, breathing easily, feeling good kind of run. It’s the pace you can run and hold a conversation or even sing a song at submaximal effort.
Most runners tend run too hard, too often. “If I am pushing myself to the limit every day, I will get faster in a race. Right?” Wrong. High intensity running on an everyday basis will get you injured and/or burnt out very fast.
Don't get me wrong—it can also be difficult slowing yourself down, but it will pay off in the long run.
What are some benefits of a conversation pace run?
- Increase aerobic capacity
- Increase and improve oxygen consumption
- Improve fat metabolism
- Improve stamina/endurance
- Helps the body adapt to the stress of sustained running
How can you make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard? At various points during your run, do a little talk test. If you can’t spit out a sentence or two, slow it down. Walk a little if you have to. Chances are your heart rate is too high and you have crossed over into that anaerobic training zone where lactic acid starts to build up and fatigue sets in quicker.
Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning “speed play.” A fartlek run is just that—playing with speed! It’s a form of interval training with fast bouts of running followed by a recovery period at conversation pace.
While there are many benefits to fartlek training, a fartlek run is meant to be fun. The goal is to vary your pace (at about 70-90% effort) throughout the run and vary the time/distance of the sprinting and recovery phases.
A traditional fartlek run uses landmarks on your route as markers. Sprint to the next mailbox, jog two telephone poles, sprint to the next driveway, etc. The increase in speed incorporates both the aerobic and anaerobic systems, challenging the cardiovascular system.
Running at the same pace all the time will cause a runner to plateau. Experiment with Fartlek runs to change gears and recruit different muscle fibers.
It also helps simulate the racing experience. Think about the small surges to pass another runner or slowing down at a water station.
What are the benefits of a Fartlek run?
- Increase speed
- Improve endurance
- Build strength
- Recruit different muscle fibers
- Varying intensities means greater calorie burn
- Practice and promote good running form
Fartlek running is great when you are starting to incorporate speed workouts into your training. Make sure you have a good 4-8 weeks of aerobic base building down before you start any interval training and don’t forget to warm up before beginning a fartlek run! Start with only a few repetitions, and over time increase the number of repetitions along with increasing speed intervals while decreasing rest intervals. Remember this is a form of interval training and a hard effort, so limit to once a week—not every run! With any interval training, you want to avoid doing too much too soon.
Incorporate these two types of runs into your training routine & plan, progress, perform!
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