Fartlekkkkkk...S'cuse me.


Call me silly, but Fartlek has always been a fun word.

Yasso is fun too...but not as fun as Fartlek.

Since I am not a seasoned runner, I had no idea what these words meant as they were thrown around my message board, blog, and running group conversations.  I have perfected the "smile and nod", so I can generally pass myself off as if I am in the know.  In reality, I'm totally clueless.

Recently, I decided that if I'm going to really do this whole marathon thing, I'm going to have to figure out what all of these fancy running terms mean.  It's only right.  I can only smile and nod for so long, ya know?


What is a Yasso?

According to an old article from Runner's World, which explains the invention of Yasso 800's, they are a  pretty reliable way to determine what your marathon finish time will be.  The basic concept is that if you want to run a marathon in 4 hours, you can train yourself to run a series of several (usually 10) 800 meter sets at 4 minutes for each set.  If you can run each set of 800 meters in 4 minutes, then you will be able to run a 4 hour marathon.  If you can run your 800's in 3 minutes each, then you'll be able to run a 3 hour marathon.  I can't explain it.  Somehow, it just works.

According to the above-mentioned article, Bart Yasso, the creator of this invention, begins running his Yasso 800's a couple of months before his goal marathon. The first week he does four 800 meter sets. On each subsequent week, he adds one more until he reaches 10.  According to the article, the last workout of Yasso 800's should be completed at least 10 days before your marathon, and 14 to 17 days would probably be better.


What is Fartlek training?

According to Wikipedia, Fartlek is essentially just a fancy way to say "speed play".  I always thought it was much more complicated than that.  It just sounds like something you would need special tools or applicances to accomplish.

Fartlek training was developed by Gosta Holmer, a Swedish coach, for a cross-country runner.  Basically, the Swedish cross-country team was getting crushed by the Finns, so Holmer developed this Fartlek session in order to help the Swedes speed their arses up.  A fartlek session should be done at an intensity that causes you to work at 60% to 80% of your  maximum heart rate.  To figure out your maximum heart rate, just subtract your age from 220.  Mine is 188.  This is where a heart rate monitor comes in handy I suppose.  Too bad mine is broken.

Note to self: Get that fixed.

Here's Holmer's first developed Fartlek workout:

  • Warmup: easy running for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Steady, hard speed for 1.5–2 km; like a long repetition.
  • Recovery: rapid walking for about 5 minutes.
  • Start of speed work: easy running interspersed with sprints of about 50–60 m, repeated until a little tired.
  • Easy running with three or four "quick steps" now and then (simulating suddenly speeding up to avoid being overtaken by another runner).
  • Full speed uphill for 175–200 m.
  • Fast pace for 1 minute.
  • The whole routine is then repeated until the total time prescribed on the training schedule has elapsed.

Hmmm...sounds like fun.


What is Lactate threshold training?

LT training involves running at an intensity that produces lactic acid in the blood. This type of training means that you run just under your race pace for a designated period of time, at about 85-90% of your maximum heart rate. It is designed to build your lactate threshold (lactate is that icky stuff that makes your muscles tired), so that you can run faster and for a longer period of time.


What is cruise interval training?

Cruise intervals are periods of hard running at 15-20 seconds sloer than your race pace.  The intervals can be as short as 90 seconds, or as long as 10 minutes, but the recovery period should be pretty short.  Much like a lactate threshold workout, cruise intervals will raise the point at which the lactic acid starts to build up in your blood.  A sample cruise interval would include 5-10 minutes of hard running at 80% of maximum heartrate, and a 1 minute recovery period. 


What is tempo training?

Tempo training is similar to all of the above training techniques.  In this Runner's World article, they refer to the tempo run as " comfortably hard".  Also according to said article, many running coaches feel that tempo runs are the single most effective element in training, and they are also the building block of training plans for those crazy Kenyan runners.

If you have already built a descent endurance running base,  you can perform your tempo run by doing a 15 minute slow warmup, followed by 20 minutes at the "comfortably hard" pace (which is usually about 15-30 seconds faster than your normal race pace, or 85-90% of maximum heart rate), and finish with 15 minutes of slow cool down running.   If you're not yet built up to a full-on 50 minute run, the above-mentioned Runner's World article has a good plan for building up to a full tempo run.


So, I'm glad that we've got that all cleared up.

All of this running talk has made me hungry.