Fartlek is a Swedish running term meaning speed play and fortunately for me the woodland trails of Austria provide an ideal location for this Scandinavian form of training.
The trails near where I live are marked with coloured paint like the one in the above picture. These trail markings will generally be anything from 20 mtrs to 200 mtrs apart, in difficult rocky terrain they may be 10 mtrs apart or less.
What I did today was to run gently for 20 minutes to thoroughly warm up the leg muscles. Having done this I then ran at varying speeds for 20-25 minutes from one painted marker to the next, but basically alternating between fast running and slower running or jogging. I then warmed down for 15 minutes with a medium paced run and finally a short walk.
I think Fartlek is an ideal training tool for short winter and autumn days provided the ground is not icy. I will now include it in my winter training regime which is basically a maintenance programme and which will now proceed roughly* as follows:
Sun: long slow run - 2 to 3 hrs
Mon: walk 30 mins - 1 hour
Tue: short run - 1 hr
Wed: fartlek - 1 hour
Thu: steady run 1 hour
Fri: walk 30 mins - 1 hour
Sat: hills 1 hour
*If I elect to do a race or two then obviously there will be changes. But this will probably not be very often, as the off-road running season is now drawing to a close.