Fartleks aren't just for running (and saying outloud). It's a Swedish term for "speed play," and we will be fartlek'ing all over the place today. It might sound intimidating, but fartleks are just another brief-interval exercise blended with endurance training. We will just be playing with speed. :)
Fartleks challenge the body to adapt to different speeds so you become faster over longer distances. There's a few different ways they can work. They have traditionally be done without a guide, in our example, by mixing shuffling with rucking as inspiration strikes. An illustration of the fluidity would be where you select available landmarks, like shuffling to the lamppost, then regular pace to the fire hydrant, then shuffling down the hill, etc. It's a fluid training exercise, but there's also a more structured way to do fartleks, where you are watching your timer in a 5-4-3-2-1 fashion.
Fartleks are fun. They're great to make a boring route more interesting. I always liked doing them with our kids. Since you're never all-out running with a ruck, a shuffle/ruck is a great opportunity for everyone to pick a landmark to shuffle or ruck to, and then the next person takes a turn. And kids REALLY like the word fartlek.
They're great for mental toughness. Training in this fashion can feel really easy mentally. But when you're in an event, it gives you one of the most powerful tools - sign posting. When you're sign posting, you're out of your head. Your goal is to make it to the next spot, and then the next one, which can be a necessary skill when you're on hour 10 and you've been carrying the big-ass sandbag no one else wants.
So today, I'm giving you options instead of a hard-and-fast workout. I want you to find this fun and freeing.
How do I shuffle? Lastly, let's talk about shuffling properly. Shuffling IS NOT jogging or running. To properly shuffle, you keep your body in alignment, head over shoulders, shoulders over hips. As you take off, your shuffle keeps your feet under your hips. I've always thought it looks like a baby run. Light feet, toe strike to mid-foot. If you're a visual person, this video from ruck.beer is a great resource.
Finally, does this count as a workout or miles today? Today's plan is unique and because it does not include any body weight or ruck specific exercises to go along with it, today counts as MILES ONLY.
THE WORK - OPTIONS
Option 1 - Unstructured (Best for Beginners)
If you're still new to interval work and shuffling, watch the above video.
Select a distance. After you feel warmed up, select a landmark and shuffle to it. Then select another landmark and ruck to it in a different pace. Take turns back and forth, and let your intuition be your guide. These can be really fun.
Option 2 - Kinda Structured
This is for those of you who have a longer ruck already scheduled. I wouldn't necessarily do this for your first 12-miler, but I'd do it between 6-8mi. You'll ruck until you feel warmed up, and then every 6-8 minutes, shuffle pace for at least 1 minute. Set your timer at the start of each regular ruck interval so you've given yourself a hard-start to begin shuffling, and adhere to it.
Option 3 - Structured
Give yourself 10:00 to warm up. Then follow this sequence:
1 min regular pace
1 min hard pace
1 min shuffling
2 min regular pace
2 min hard pace
2 min shuffling
3 min regular pace
3 min hard pace
3 min shuffling
4 min regular pace
4 min hard pace
4 min shuffling
5 min regular pace
5 min hard pace
5 min shuffling