Fartlek running recruits more of your fast twitch muscle fibers, bringing more of your total muscle fibers into the running. With this fast running, you’ll be conditioning your entire muscle to prepare for 10K racing. Now that you are in your second week of this 10K race preparation, lets examine why you should play at speed with fartlek running.
According to former University of Florida coach and author Roy Benson, “Aerobic speedwork improves flexibility, strength and coordination.” You will need all three to run a good 10K. Speedplay or fartlek is a controlled OR uncontrolled system to accomplish quality aerobic running and speedwork. It can be a “run fast when you feel like it” session, or you can have a set plan--say 20 efforts of 200 to 300 meters, or 6 half mile efforts. Use sections of the trail or park with the safest footing, or least traffic, or most mud, or enjoyable slope; then run at easy pace to recover. Fartlek is a great playtool for: Post Long Distance Run Recovery. After the longest run of the week, fartlek brings pep back to your legs...gently. Two days after running long, run 100 to 400 meter striders over varying terrain, at different speeds or paces. Incorporate small hills, or running in dirt or sand for additional strength. Quality Aerobic Conditioning. All distance running helps your aerobic conditioning. However, fartlek’s speedplay brings in those reluctant fast twitch muscle fibers. Get the entire muscle into action. Most 10K runners possess predominantly slow twitch muscle fibers. All runners should put their muscles through a full range of motion at least twice a week to maintain good running form, while getting full use from the fast twitch muscle fibers. Long fartlek sessions at modest pace, combined with long runs will improve the endurance of these fast twitch fibers. Leg Strength and Masters Anti-aging. Fartlek keeps your legs strong as you go through the masters age groups--as does all speed training. Use it to gain or maintain leg strength at all ages. Speedplay stimulates endorphin production inside your body for healing and health. Former Miler or 5,000 Runner? Keep your legspeed (cadence) with 30-90 second efforts. Play around with your knee lift and stride length. Push off from the toes--you can still enjoy the speed. Run some longer efforts too--a nice relaxed tempo for 3-7 minutes--feel the power in your legs from your new mileage base. However, don’t run all-out. Coming up from Marathon Running: (some runners think 10K is the highest form of racing). Rarely ran speedwork in your marathon preparation? Be gentle with your first few fartlek runs. Run fartlek once a week for three weeks, then twice a week for another three weeks before moving on to Phase Two. Fartlek Pace. Run anything from 15K to 5K race pace. Simply enjoy the fast running while working on your form.
Roy Benson says you should practice, “Running in a fairly straight line for running efficiency.” Fartlek Training improves your Flexibility and Running Efficiency...If you Practice these points: Let your ankles roll as you glide along. Feet should be moving backwards when they land on the ground--ready to propel you forward. Land with a slightly bent knee, as if onto eggshells. A soft footfall with flexed knee reduces the pounding. Land on the outer edge of the heel or mid-foot, then roll inwards to a neutral position as you move toward push-off. Push yourself forward powerfully with the calf muscles: By extending the trail leg to its full length, and pushing off from the end of your toes. Run upright; run tall. Bring the hips forward. Make your feet hug the buttocks as they swing through on each stride. Whip those feet through. Keep your hands loose and relaxed. A clenched fist transfers its tension to the shoulders. More tips in:
In case you missed last week, the basic running schedule for 30 miles per week is: Day one: 10-12 mile easy pace run Day two: rest Day three: easy 6 mile run Day four: Up to three miles of fartlek running, plus warm-up and cooldown gives you 7 miles Day five: rest Day six: easy 7 mile run Day seven: rest Total mileage is 30-32 Moderately intensive runners will run fartlek on days three and six, with an easy run on day four. Day one is unchanged.
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