Move For Fun, Get Fit For Life.

Race Day September 22, 2018

Healthy Living Expo September 20-21, 2018

Speedplay: your way to improved fitness at any level!

, by Anne Audain

When I met my mother-in-law she was 70 years old. She had started walking 3 miles a day at her local YMCA at age 65 to improve her overall health and fitness. This old building had an indoor wood track that took her 60 laps to complete her 3 miles. She was often the only person there and boredom frequently set in.

I suggested she do some Fartlek, which is the Swedish word for “speedplay.” I suggested that on every 5th lap she should walk faster to raise her heart rate. She started there and gradually built endurance to walk faster for longer periods of time. She set goals for herself and logged her progress.

Runners all over the world have trained with this method for years.

Fartlek training “is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running” (Wikipedia). It benefits our aerobic and anaerobic systems and strengthens heart health.

Walkers, joggers and runners can all use “speedplay” to improve their overall fitness by raising their heart rates for periods of time during their daily workouts.

  • For runners this is a mixture of jogging and sprinting.
  • For beginning runners it could be walking and running and walkers can use fast/slow gaits.

This is how it could work no matter which category you fit into:

Use light poles as visual landmarks to speed up and slow down for a period of time during your daily workout. You can choose the amount of time to use “speedplay” based on your fitness level. No light poles? Another simple way is to count every time your right foot hits the ground and speed up for 40 double steps and slow down for 40.

The Boise River Greenbelt has markers at every tenth of a mile. They are great for “speedplay!”

The best aspect of “speedplay” is that it is completely unstructured and we can all choose the way we want to use it at any age. My mom-in-law had open heart surgery at 79 years old to replace a valve. She was soon home and walking circles in her house. She attended her high school reunion three weeks after the surgery.

Doctors attributed her quick recovery to her walking and overall fitness. She and the article here from the New York Times, show it’s never too late to improve your health and fitness.


Looking for a team to join for the FitOne 5K, 10K or Half Marathon in September? Join Annie's Team, presented by Shu's Idaho Running Company! This team invites women 50 years and older to join with a goal of having fun come race day - no matter your ability level. If you want to join Annie's Team, click HERE to register and choose Annie's Team during the Join a Team registration. Hope to see you out there!

Tags: physical activity,health,fitness,exercise,running,walking