Couch to 5K

Uphill Fartleks

I played around with Roy Bensons book "Precision Running with a HRM" while we were in the US. His training method is quite simple -- just running to different heart rate numbers, no pacing involved.

He encourages people to do lots of easy running to a maximum of 75-80% of your max HR and also encourages people to do fartleks by running until HR gets to around 90% and then recover back down to 70%.

I tried this out while we were away and found the method to be quite good -- except that the Fartleks never ever felt right to me . So -today I tried something different which I think will work for me . Easy slow running is boring!! :) -- but it has to be done -- lots of it!! And a big problem for me is that as soon as I hit any kind of hill, I must slow down even further, maybe to a walk , to keep my HR down. So today, I turned that around 180 degrees. I ran easy down all hills and on the flats - but whenever I came across any hill, regardless of length or steepness, I would run as hard as I could until my HRM registered 90% or I simply ran out of steam- then I would walk until I recovered . Sometimes I would try to get to the top of the hill and therefore restricted my effort to make sure the HR reached 90% at the top - while other times I would run as hard as possible, knowing that would I not reach the top, recovered and did it all over again until I did reach the top.

It kind of gave me some structure to adhere to for the Fartleks, made the slow run less boring - while at the same time relieved the SLOOOW slog up the hills that I would have had to do to keep in the aerobic zone .

I think this is going to work for me!!

5 Replies

Sounds like a great plan to get fitter. What equipment do you use to measure your heart rate? How do you know what your max heart rate is? Thanks


I have a simple and cheap ALDI HRM with a chest strap. It does everything that I want it to do - except that sometimes it goes ballistic . I am now suspecting my phone as being the culprit causing this.

I have used my HRM for quite some time now - and after researching lots of "studies" and "formulas" that I have found on the Internet regarding the calculation of max HR ( but which only ever give an "average" result for any particular age ) and also observing the HRM numbers during hard parkruns, I believe that my max HR is around 160. It could be a little more - but at my age it pays to be a bit conservative - so that is what I work around.


I have been monitoring my runs by hr and, yes, the long slow ones can get boring. I do like the idea of building in uphill fartlecs, may even give that a go tonight! Thanks!!


The problem with HR training - is that they all say to run easy at low HR numbers -- but then you have the problem of hills !! What do you do with them ?? -- walk up them on a slow/easy/long run or try to slow down even more ( ruining running form??) . Then they have things like tempo repeats, intervals, speed/hill runs on separate days.

I am only running for fitness -- so combining speed/hills/tempo work fartleks with easy slow in between would seem to suit me and my requirements. It may not be "optimal" in terms of training -- but whatever keeps me running enthusiastically is what is "optimal" for me!! :)

1 like

Exactly Baz, whatever keeps you running


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