But if I am really Trying to get the most out of my runs, I recently learned that I had to choose one of eight official run types. These include base runs, recovery runs, long runs, tempo runs, interval runs, fartleks, hill repeats and progression runs. Each serves its own purpose and has its own advantages.
We enlisted the running experts to give us the full rundown (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) on all eight types of runs.
What to know before trying any of the eight track types
That you are training for a marathon or simply run for cardio“If your goal is to go faster, to go longer, to get stronger, then it’s really important to [incorporate different types of runs] in your training,” says Nadia Ruiz, an endurance trainer who has run over 500 races. Knowing the hows and whys of each type will allow you to get the most out of your training every time you lace.
Most of us first learn about the different types of races when we prepare for a race, says Sashea Lawsonsix-time marathoner, Olympic distance triathlete and founder of the Diverse world of runners community. But that doesn’t mean that only people training for a race can reap the benefits of different types of races.
That said, your running goals and experience will determine “how” and “when” to incorporate each into your routine. “It’s going to be a very, very different answer for each person,” Ruiz says. “You could be a sub-three-hour runner trying to get fast enough for Olympic qualifying,” or someone running their very first mile. The look of a particular race varies a lot and should offer something challenging, but not too taxing for you.
Two running experts break down the 8 types of runs
1. Basic route
What it is: If you were to think of your running program as a home, Ruiz says, then grassroots runs would be the base. “You have to build up a certain amount of mileage that’s pretty easy, and that’s what your base run is,” says Ruiz. “That’s what you can do every time. This is your baseline.
Benefits: Lawson says these runs build your aerobic capacity, which means they help your body use oxygen more efficiently when you run.
How to do: To complete a basic run, think about what you consider easy in terms of mileage and time, and start there. Remember, “It can be a short to moderate length, depending on the runner’s target distance,” says Lawson. A good rule to follow is to keep the pace slow enough to be able to converse comfortably.
2. Recovery run
What it is: Recovery runs are done at an easy pace and are meant to help your body bounce back the day after a tougher workout. “They create movement and blood flow in your body, because we know stagnation is not a good thing,” Ruiz says.
Benefits: “They allow your body to recover, which is very important when training because that’s when you’re going to see the benefits,” Lawson says. Included in these benefits? Minimize the risk of injury.
How to do: Keep them short and avoid anything difficult like high heat or hills, Ruiz says.
3. Long term
What it is: This is your longest run of the week. The exact distance is going to vary depending on what you’re training for, Lawson says. “Maybe someone has never run a mile before, so a long run for them would be three miles. But maybe you’re looking at a marathon runner who can run 20 miles,” Ruiz says. is what is the longest term for the specific runner.”
Benefits: Long runs build your endurance and help strengthen your heart muscles. Ruiz adds that you can also use them to create a racing environment to “rehearse” for the big day.
How to do: These runs are typically done once a week and build on each other, growing longer as your training progresses towards a run. Ruiz cautions: “You don’t want to jump too far because there needs to be progression.”
4. Race to the tempo
What it is: For this run, Ruiz says, you’re aiming to keep “a pace just above your threshold for 30 to 60 minutes.” It’s not a full sprint, but it’s harder than a pace you could hold for hours. Some trainers suggest considering this as your 10k run pace, yes, even if you’re not running 10k.
Benefits: Tempo races test your respiratory and cardiovascular systems while increasing your running limits. They can help your body adapt to longer, faster runs, Lawson says.
How to do: You don’t want to overwork yourself on tempo runs – back off if you start picking up a pace that you can’t keep up for a longer period of time. Because this is a tougher run, Lawson recommends following it up with a recovery run within 24 hours.
5. Interval running
What it is: Run a set time or distance at a set pace, then recover with a short rest period before starting again.
Benefits: “It challenges your body more than a tempo run because you’re running at faster speeds,” adds Ruiz. This type of training can help you go faster and improve your form.
How to do: To avoid injury, start with short distances to see how your body reacts at higher speeds. “Then you can start increasing the length of the intervals,” says Ruiz. For example, Lawson says, you can run for two, four, or five minutes at a brisk pace and then have a one- or two-minute recovery period.
What it is: The Swedish term for “speed play,” a fartlek is similar to doing intervals because, as the name suggests, you’re playing with how fast your body can run. However, a fartlek is not as stiff as an interval run. “With fartlek, you just throw all the intervals in a bowl, allowing them to mix together,” Ruiz explains. “You can run at many different paces in a single run.”
Benefits: Like intervals, fartleks will improve your speed. And they’re great for beginners because you can choose how fast you go and for how long.
How to do: “You can incorporate fartleks at the beginning, middle, and end of your workout routines,” Ruiz says. Sprint for two minutes. Race to stop. Walk for 30 seconds. A fartlek is your playground!
7. The Hill Repeats
What it is: These involve running up an incline as fast as you can, walking or jogging back down, then back up at least five times. “The goal is to improve your leg strength and your physical condition,” says Lawson, who adds that it’s his favorite type of running. “It’s going to help you expend less energy when running or jogging.”
Benefits: Even though the hill reps make you feel like Sisyphus on his worst day, they are definitely worth trying. This type of running gives your legs and buttocks serious strength, which makes it easier for you to run over hills Where flat terrain, and it improves your running form to help you become more efficient.
How to do: Find a hill and aim for 30, 60, or 90 seconds, or until you reach a particular landmark, then recover by returning to the bottom before starting again. You can also set an incline on a treadmill and do reps on it. Lawson adds that hill reps should also be followed by a recovery run.
8. Progressive stroke
What it is: These races start at a slower pace and get faster and faster during the race itself.
Benefits: This type of running helps improve your endurance “and also teaches someone to run faster at the end of a run,” adds Lawson.
How to do: You can increase your pace with each mile or in time increments, such as every 15 minutes, Ruiz explains. What works best will vary from runner to runner.