How a Strategy I’ve Learned as a Runner Has Boosted My Productivity

It makes getting things done a little more fun

Michelle Loucadoux
Published in
5 min readDec 3, 2021


Two people running in a race, striving for the finish line in front of a crowd of people
Photo by Victoire Joncheray on Unsplash

When I first heard the word, I thought the same thing you’re thinking: What the heck is a fartlek? Turns out it’s a running tactic that, if applied to your daily tasks, could juice your productivity.

A fartlek, a Swedish word that means “speed play,” is a form of unstructured speed work. Runners who experiment with fartleks might sprint for a minute and slow down for four, sprint again for two minutes and jog for two. The idea behind a fartlek is that you play around with your running speed and gauge it to how you feel.

Unlike interval training, fartlek runners don’t have a specified amount of time that they run at a certain speed. Instead, they can vary their speeds, as long as they keep running.

For me, fartleks are a sort of gamification for my running—and my productivity. I challenge myself to sprint as fast as I can to the Starbucks three blocks away or I blow through writing a new article because I’m super passionate about the subject matter.

Tom Craggs writes in Runner’s World that, “Fartlek leaves a lot of control to the runner. You can choose to mix a wide range of paces and lengths for your faster efforts, or head out without a detailed structure and just go by how you feel.”

The idea behind fartleks can be applied to getting things done in your day. If you’re feeling like blowing through some emails, try getting as many as you can out in as short a time as possible. If you’re not quite feeling it right now, perhaps take your time doing something else. As long as you’re still getting things done, you’re making progress in your productivity.

Fartleks and juicing productivity

One of the main reasons fartleks are effective in both running and productivity is that they can help you get used to a higher velocity of getting things done. While you may not be able to run for five minutes at a 10-mile-per-hour speed, you can give your body a little taste of it for one minute. The same works for productivity.

You may not be able to, say, maintain a breakneck speed of slaying a spreadsheet for an hour, but if…



Michelle Loucadoux
Writer for

Author, educator, and self-improvement nerd. Co-founder of Danscend. My books: My email: