Parenting – one lifelong fartlek

According to, the funniest term in running, fartlek (fahrt-lek), means “a training technique, used especially among runners, consisting of bursts of intense effort loosely alternating with less strenuous activity”. It comes from the Swedish language – a play on the words that mean “speed play”.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never done an “official” fartlek.  Certainly alternating running and walking is an alternating technique.  However, following Galloway’s technique is pretty well planned and not “loose” in how you alternate – and does not involve getting speedier as you go.  I have run fast (for me) and then wound up holding my side for “less strenuous activity” for a bit afterwards. But clearly that’s not what the Swedes had in mind.

Thankfully – I read on Galloway’s website that he doesn’t recommend fartleks for beginners as they’re likely to get hurt.  Ah ha – I knew I was being smart by avoiding this kind of speed work. But seriously – one of these days I anticipate working my way up to a faster pace. And fartleks might be involved – if I can hack it. Moving faster and then slower and doing it over and over again. The beauty in the technique is knowing your own body and pushing it in ways that feel right but also push you.

Fast, intense, slow, intense, fast, slow – at unexpected intervals.  Hmmm….not sure if it describes a training workout or how our years of parenting have gone thus far. Some days it’s intense and the crisis of the day is all consuming. And then there are the phases when things are good, almost – dare I say – easy. The kids are happy, there are no developmental issues that are pushing them (and us!) to the limits. With two kids – we tend to find that we’re always in some intense, faster pace with at least one kid all the time. Cause why have Mom and Dad running at a more leisurely pace when they can be racing all the time. Right?

I suppose all this “training” means that my husband and I are getting faster and stronger as parents….ha ha ha. But I do pray we have endurance for when the teen years are eventually upon us. Meanwhile – I am working up to more speed work – if only to be able to keep up with our kids.

2 thoughts on “Parenting – one lifelong fartlek

  1. Okay – when I read the term “Fartlek” it made me giggle! But I love the whole theory of “Fartlek Parenting.” It is so true, and you explained it so nicely. Sometimes, as a parent of two (one easy, one sensory crazy) kids, I feel like I am stuck in one loooonng Fartlek! BTW – I have to hold my side after I do them, too!

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