The MONA Fartlek.

I really like this workout. The MONA Fartlek, the eponymous tribute to its creator (Steve Monghetti) is a fantastic test of anaerobic fitness. Not always so, but I have been using it as such. I don’t always look forward to the speed workouts; they are a relentless ordeal on the body – a compound of extreme pain and an insidious fatigue, but this one I have enjoyed so far. My enjoyment is likely tantamount to a inefficient workout overall however and I will explain this later. For now though, I like it, whether it is benefiting me or not. I feel like it is and the rest of you can shut up.

To digress briefly, I am sat here writing this in the canteen of Southampton General Hospital. To my right is a large gentleman putting away a cooked breakfast for his lunch. I am trying not to look but he does not look like he needs the calories. I believe he is sweating. I run for many reasons, but a significant and enduring one is my refusal to conform to my genetics. Cardiovascular disease runs rife through my lineage. I just do not want a heart attack.

Back to the topic at hand. I won’t go into the detail of this workout as there are plenty of blogs and instructive articles online. I will outline it’s skeleton briefly below for those of you that have not completed the fartlek yet. It is in total a 20 minute affair, with ever reducing subsequent intervals. The emphasis, as I loosely alluded to before, is on completing the rests at a significant pace and one that does not allow the body to adjust and recover. Hence my enjoyment of the workout may be a little misguided. To be clear though, I end each workout with my lungs as dry as the desert, so on some level, it must be working.

2 x 1min 30s (Equal rest floats)

4 x 60s (Equal rest floats)

4 x 30s (Equal rest floats)

4 x 15s (Equal rest floats)

That should, in total equal to 20minutes. I might have miscalculated, and if I have, I don’t care, look up the workout yourself. I am pretty sure it’s right so put your calculators away.


Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 18.50.41

Although I am training for the Brighton Half marathon, I have been running these intervals to 5km time more or less. What this means is – I should be running the fast interval at 10km pace and the rest at HM pace. On the contrary,  I am instead doing, or at least trying to do the fast interval at 5km at the rest at 10km. From the graph above you can see that this has not quite been the case. My mistakes are as follows.

  1. The onset of each interval scrapes 4:00min/km and rapidly tails off. I have a tendency to slow down before the onset of the rest which is not ideal. Bad me.
  2. The rests are slow. Too slow. Realistically I should have been at around 4:30-4:40. At the trough, the rests skirted around 5:20 which is ridiculous. I may as well have tucked myself into bed.
  3. The last 15s splits were quite happily incoherent. Realistically, the last 15 strides are meant to be a real test of anaerobic effort at fatigue. So they should be run faster, much faster than the original 2 intervals and as can be noticed, this was once again askew.


In total I managed 4.40km in 19:53s (4:30min/km) pace. This equates to about 4.44km at 20minutes. Previously I managed 4.38km in 20:20, and so a demonstrable, if small improvement. I am quietly confident that Mo Farah is not going to be shaking in his boots but I’ll take any improvement at my stage. En route to the 20min 5km, this is only 500m off, which is hugely reassuring. If I can tidy up the above mistakes than I have no question that this could be improved even further. I’ll be repeating the workout in February once again and it would nice to get on the business side of 4.5km. The trick really is going to be the rests – keeping them above 5:00min/km. That should be enough.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s