Does Anyone Else Think The Word “Fartlek” is Really Obnoxious?

On pretty rare occasions, I’ve seen the word “fartlek” pop up in twitter updates/blog posts.  Really, it looks innocent enough if you don’t think about it too hard.

But, it is pronounced “fart lick.”

I can’t even type it without snickering.  What kind of word is that?

Because runners were the only ones mentioning it, I figured it must be something along the lines of racing behind someone who ate too many bean burritos.

But then a couple of days ago, when I asked about our workout, Coach Aaron said we were doing a fartlek. 

I was not amused.

Turns out fartlek is Swedish for “speed play.”  Thanks, Wikipedia!  I’m also guessing that “fart” means speed in Swedish.  Do people walk around Sweden saying they wish they ran as farty as everyone else? This wasn’t covered in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Anyway, a fartlek is similar to sprint intervals, but without any set distances.  For example, we would sprint from the street light to the white truck, then do a recovery jog from the white truck to the funky mailbox.  We continued for 2 miles after a mile long warm-up.  The advantage is that you can do shorter, faster sprints based on your energy level with less focus on distance.  It also helps the miles go by quickly! (I guess you can also do a slightly more organized version with set intervals. But that doesn’t sound any different from regular intervals. Nor does it sound very play-like).

I imagine in my running career I’ll end up having to do another one of these workouts, but I kind of want to call them something else.  SpeedLek? Eff-a-ar-tee Lek? tar-fay-ke-lay?


I’m still feeling kind of low on energy, and I’m not sure why. It’s very noticeable when I run, but I’ve also been crashing hard at about 2:00 p.m. at my office.  Over the next couple of days I’m going to reevaluate my diet and water intake and see if I’m doing something wrong.  Aaron also suggested that all the springtime crap in the air (made worse by the wind we’ve been having) might be clogging my lungs, so I’m taking in less oxygen, lowering my energy level.  I don’t really know.

I started posting some of my workouts to dailymile last week.  I’ve been kind of Debbie Downer in my descriptions, thinking no one was really looking at them (I hadn’t really intended to make friends on dailymile). There were a lot of “blah” smiley faces.

Then, on Tuesday night I came back to the computer, and found a tweet from a guy who followed me last week (I figured it was one of those people who just follow other people for self promotion.  I never thought we’d have an actual interaction).  He tweeted to his bizillion followers that I was new to dailymile and needed a big welcome and some motivation.  I also had 20 new daily mile friends and almost as many welcome messages.  

Aside from being completely unexpected, that was so sweet! I’ve always thought runners were the most supportive group of people, and I was proved right with an overwhelming welcome from my dailymile cheerleading crew.  So, thanks, running peeps!

I also immediately became self-conscious about all of the workout notes I’d been writing. Obviously I was sounding so blah that I needed an intervention.

At least I was smart enough not to include “fartlek” in my description of Tuesdays workout! Then people would really start to wonder….

12 thoughts on “Does Anyone Else Think The Word “Fartlek” is Really Obnoxious?

  1. Hahaha, I also always snickered at “fartlek” and I never use the word myself as it really sounds ridiculous! I like the English translation you provided, Speed Play and i think I will just use that!

    Also, you may also want to look into your iron levels. Low iron can make you tired and sluggish. And if you are a vegetarian, you definitely need to take vitamin B12 supplements.

    • I’m not a veggie, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I had low iron levels. I should probably start taking a supplement. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Had never heard of fartlek before, thanks for sharing. I will prolly try the workout but will not be using the word. BTW I’m a consultant for a line of nutritional supplements and I’d be glad to help if you are ready to re-boot your system and get lots of energy back 😉

  3. What a great story about DailyMile and the support of the community. I’ve always been a lone wolf runner, but I was completely surprised at the enthusiasm and encouragement of the blogger and DailyMile communities once I joined both. Keep on fart(lek)ing…

    • I agree. I don’t think I would be nearly as into running as I am now if I didn’t have all the people I’ve connected with through blogging/twitter and now dailymile!

  4. Pingback: Check the Rear View and Clear the Windshield | My Run is Not Done

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