Run Faster with This Countdown Fartlek Workout

Countdown Fartlek Workout

Not all interval workouts need to be boring repetitions. These fun fartlek workouts add a twist to traditional speedwork with a countdown format. If you’ve heard the term and wondered what a fartlek is, fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish (if you are wondering what fartlek training is, read this post). These countdown fartlek workouts utilize a fun countdown structure, where the intervals get shorter as the workout progresses. This workout will fly by; by the time you are done, you will have completed a solid speed workout, while also having some fun on your run. 

How to Do These Countdown Fartlek Workouts

You can use a stopwatch, interval timer, or program the workout into your GPS watch, of course. Additionally, there’s no pressure for perfection here – don’t worry about distance or even precise timing. Moreover, the entire purpose of a fartlek run is to shift your focus away from hitting an exact pace and onto the enjoyment of a fun workout.  So, don’t stare at your watch; let your effort guide you.

These two variations of the countdown fartlek – one short, one long – are versatile workouts. You can use them during base-building or early season workouts; the shorter workout works especially well for base-building. You can incorporate them into a race-specific training plan by increasing the intensity of the intervals or deliberately running each interval faster than the previous one. In addition, these workouts will pass time on the treadmill during the winter months and can be done in the summer as an alternative to tempo runs or track workouts. Fartlek workouts are ideal speedwork for trail and ultra runners. Of course, you can do these workouts anywhere: your normal road route, the trails, the treadmill, or the track. 

In terms of effort, hard is relative in these countdown fartlek runs, on the whole. Therefore, you can run as hard or as easy as you want. Hard can be simply picking up the pace, or it can be pushing yourself like you would in a track workout, for example.

Countdown Fartlek Workouts

Short Countdown Fartlek Workout:
30-40 Minutes

  • Warm up: 10-15 minutes easy running
  • 4 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy
  •  3 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy
  • 2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy
  • 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy
  • Cool down: 5-10 minutes easy
Short Countdown Fartlek

Long Countdown Fartlek Workout:
50-60 Minutes

  • Warm up: 10-15 minutes easy running
  • 8 minutes hard, 4 minutes easy
  • 6 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy
  • 4 minutes hard, 2 minutes easy
  • 2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy
  • 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy
  • Cool down: 10-15 minutes easy running

Long Countdown Fartlek

Do you regularly do fartlek runs in your training?

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