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Here Are The 8 Fundamental Kinds Of Runs That Will Aid You In Enhancing Your Running Performance

When I tie my running shoes and turn on my music playlist, I’m faced with a significant choice: What style of run should I embark on? I often find myself pondering between contemplative runs (disconnect from the world and go), swift runs (dash along as swiftly as I can for as far as I can), and runs that I really would prefer to avoid (self-explanatory).

However, if I genuinely aim to maximize my running sessions, I recently discovered that I should opt for one of the eight recognized types of runs. These encompass base runs, recovery runs, long runs, tempo runs, interval runs, fartleks, hill repeats, and progression runs. Each serves a distinct purpose and offers unique advantages.

We contacted running professionals to provide us with a comprehensive overview on the eight varieties of runs.

Key Points to Note Before Trying Any of the Eight Types of Runs

Whether you’re gearing up for a marathon or simply running for the cardiovascular benefits, “If your objective is to build up your speed, endurance, and strength, then it’s vital to incorporate various types of runs into your training,” mentions Nadia Ruiz, an endurance mentor with over 500 races under her belt. Knowing the specifics of each type will ensure that you derive maximum value from your workouts every time you gear up for a run.

Most of us become acquainted with different run types when preparing for a race, according to Sashea Lawson, a seasoned marathon runner, Olympic distance triathlete, and founder of the Diverse Runners World community. Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that exclusively race-training individuals can profit from diversifying their runs.

With that said, your running objectives and experience level will dictate the “how” and “when” of integrating each run type into your regimen. “It’s going to vary greatly for every individual,” Ruiz states. Whether you’re striving to qualify for the Olympics like a sub-three-hour runner, or taking your first strides in running, your runs should be customized to offer a challenge that’s demanding yet not overwhelming for you.

Insights from Two Running Specialists on the 8 Types of Runs

1. Base Run

Definition: If you liken your running plan to a building, as per Ruiz, base runs would be its cornerstone. “You need to establish a certain level of mileage that’s manageable, and that’s what your base run represents,” Ruiz explains. “It’s what you can comfortably execute each time. That’s your foundation.”

Advantages: Lawson highlights that these runs enhance your aerobic capacity, aiding your body in utilizing oxygen more effectively during your runs.

Execution: To engage in a base run, consider what distance and time you find comfortable and commence from there. Keep in mind, “It could be of short to medium length, tailored to the runner’s target distance,” Lawson advises. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a pace where you can effortlessly carry on a conversation.

2. Recovery Run

Definition: Recovery runs are performed at a leisurely pace, aimed to aid your body in recuperating the day after an intense workout session. “They facilitate movement and blood circulation in your body, as stagnation isn’t favorable,” explains Ruiz.

Advantages: “They allow your body to recuperate, crucial during training since that’s when you reap the rewards,” notes Lawson. Among these benefits is the reduction of injury risks.

Execution: Keep these runs brief and steer clear of challenging terrains like steep inclines or high temperatures, suggests Ruiz.

3. Long Run

Definition: This denotes your lengthiest run of the week. The exact distance varies based on your training goals, as per Lawson. “For instance, someone who has never run a mile may consider a three-mile run as long. Conversely, a marathon runner capable of running 20 miles would have a different view,” Ruiz explains. “The long run is the maximum distance for the particular runner.”

Advantages: Long runs bolster your endurance and fortify your cardiac muscles. Ruiz emphasizes that you can also simulate race conditions to prepare for the big day.

Execution: Typically done weekly, these runs progressively extend in distance as your training advances toward a race. Ruiz stresses, “Avoid drastic distance increments to ensure a gradual progression.”

4. Tempo Run

Definition: For a tempo run, as defined by Ruiz, you aim to maintain “a pace slightly above your threshold for 30 to 60 minutes.” It’s not an all-out sprint but a pace tougher than what you could sustain for prolonged durations. Some coaches liken this to your 10K race speed, even if you don’t compete in 10K races.

Advantages: Tempo runs challenge your respiratory and cardiovascular systems while expanding your running thresholds. Lawson notes that they aid your body in adapting to lengthier and quicker runs.

Execution: Avoid pushing yourself excessively in tempo runs – dial it back if you find yourself unable to sustain the pace for an extended period. Since this run is demanding, Lawson recommends following it with a recovery run within 24 hours.

5. Interval Run

Definition: This involves running at a set pace or distance followed by a brief rest period before repeating the cycle.

Advantages: “These runs exert greater stress on your body compared to tempo runs due to the higher speeds,” adds Ruiz. This mode of training aids in speed enhancement and form refinement.

Execution: To prevent injuries, start with shorter distances to gauge your body’s response to faster speeds. “Subsequently, lengthen the interval durations,” Ruiz suggests. For example, run at a brisk pace for two, four, or five minutes followed by a recovery period of one or two minutes, explains Lawson.

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6. Fartlek

Definition: Termed “speed play” in Swedish, a fartlek resembles intervals, yet it offers more flexibility. “With fartlek, you’re blending all the intervals together, allowing them to intertwine,” points out Ruiz. “You experience a variety of paces within the same run.”

Advantages: Similar to intervals, fartleks enhance your speed. They suit beginners well since you decide the pace and duration of your speed variations.

Execution: “You can infuse fartleks at the start, middle, or end of your training schedules,” recommends Ruiz. Sprint for two minutes, race to the next landmark, walk for half a minute. A fartlek is your creative space!

7. Hill Repeats

Definition: Engaging in multiple uphill sprints followed by descending jogs or walks at least five times. “The objective is to boost your leg stamina and fitness,” shares Lawson, affirming her preference for this run type. “This enhances your efficiency during running or racing, economizing your energy outlay.”

Advantages: Despite making you feel like an uphill struggle à la Sisyphus, hill repeats bring substantial benefits. This run variety fortifies your leg and glute muscles, making it easier for you to run uphill or on flat terrain. It also enhances your running form for improved efficiency.

Execution: Locate a hill and aim to sprint for 30, 60, or 90 seconds, or until a designated spot, then recuperate during the descent before repeating. Alternatively, adjust the incline on a treadmill for repeats. Lawson advocates following hill repeats with a recovery run.

8. Progression Run

Definition: These runs commence at a leisurely pace and gradually accelerate as the run progresses.

Advantages: This run type enhances your endurance and trains you to finish a race at an accelerated pace,” Lawson highlights.

Execution: You may increase your pace per mile or in time increments, say every 15 minutes, suggests Ruiz. The optimum strategy varies for each individual runner.

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