Much like any other sports, running has a wide range of terminology that goes right over the heads of non-runners or new runners. What does “tempo” mean? Are you sure “fartlek” is a type of run and not some kind of insult? Aren’t “base runs” and “easy runs” the same? So in order to help you we here are eight basic types of runs that are practiced by runners of all levels everywhere.
A recovery run is a short and easy-paced run that you do after a particularly challenging workout or race. Recovery runs are typically slow and comfortable.
Purpose: Recovery runs are done at an easy pace, often the day after a hard workout or long run. They aid in recovery by increasing blood flow to the muscles and flushing out waste products.
Intensity: Very easy, conversational pace.
Duration: Typically 20-45 minutes.
Base runs are the foundation of a runner’s training routine. They are typically moderate-paced, steady runs that help you build endurance and aerobic fitness. These runs are done at a comfortable pace and form the bulk of a runner’s weekly mileage.
Purpose: Base runs build your aerobic fitness and endurance. They are the foundation of your training.
Intensity: Moderate, comfortable pace.
Duration: Varies depending on your fitness level and training plan.
Long runs are an essential part of endurance training. These runs are done at a slower, sustainable pace but cover a longer distance than your typical runs.
Purpose: Long runs help build endurance and prepare you for longer races. They also enhance mental toughness.
Intensity: Generally slower than your normal training pace.
Duration: Increases gradually, often up to several hours depending on your training goals.
A progression run involves gradually increasing your pace throughout the run. You start at an easy pace and finish at a faster, race-like pace.
Purpose: Progression runs start easy and gradually get faster. They help improve pacing and stamina.
Intensity: Starts slow and ends closer to race pace.
Duration: Typically 45 minutes to an hour.
Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” In a fartlek run, you vary your pace throughout the workout, mixing in periods of faster running with slower recovery segments. It’s a flexible and unstructured way to work on speed and endurance.
Purpose: Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish. These runs involve varying your pace with bursts of speed mixed with slower running to improve speed and endurance.
Intensity: Variable, based on how you feel during the run.
Duration: Can range from 30 minutes to an hour or more.
Hill repeats involve running uphill at a hard effort for a short distance, then jogging or walking back down to recover before repeating the climb.
Purpose: Hill repeats involve running up a hill at a high intensity to build strength, power, and improve your ability to handle inclines.
Intensity: High intensity during the uphill portion.
Duration: Typically, you’ll do several repeats of shorter, intense hill sprints.
Tempo runs are performed at a comfortably hard pace, typically at or slightly below your “threshold” pace, which is the pace at which your body can clear lactic acid as fast as it builds up.
Purpose: Tempo runs are run at a comfortably hard pace to improve your lactate threshold and race pace.
Intensity: Slightly below your 10K race pace.
Duration: Usually 20-40 minutes at tempo pace.
Interval training consists of high-intensity efforts (usually at or near your maximum effort) followed by periods of rest or low-intensity recovery.
Purpose: Interval workouts involve alternating high-intensity efforts with rest or easy-paced intervals. They improve speed, VO2 max, and aerobic capacity.
Intensity: High intensity during work intervals, followed by recovery.
Duration: Intervals can vary in length and intensity, often ranging from 30 seconds to several minutes, with recovery periods in between.
Each type of run serves a specific purpose in a runner’s training program, helping to build different aspects of fitness and performance. Incorporating a variety of these runs into your training schedule can lead to a well-rounded and effective running regimen.
Do share your favorite one out of all the above types of runs. Also don’t forget to share this with your running buddies.