But if I really Trying to get the most out of my runs, I recently learned that I should choose one of the eight official types of runs. These include base runs, recovery runs, long runs, tempo runs, interval runs, fartleks, hill repeats and progression runs. Each serves its own purpose and boasts its own advantages.
We tapped running experts to give us our complete, well, rundown (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) on eight types of runs.
Eight types of runs you need to know before you try them
Whether you’re training for a marathon or just running for cardio, “If your goal is to get faster, run longer, get stronger, that’s really important.” [incorporate different types of runs] in your training,” says Nadia Ruiz, an endurance coach who has run more than 500 races. Knowing the hows and whys of each type will ensure you’re getting the most out of your workout every time you lace up.
Sashia Lawson, six-time marathoner, Olympic distance triathlete and founder of the Diverse Runners World community, says that most of us first learn about different types of runs when we prepare for a race. But that doesn’t mean that only People training for running can benefit from different types of running.
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 said. “You could be a sub-three hour runner trying to be fast enough for Olympic qualifying,” or someone logging their first mile. What a particular run looks like will vary a lot, and you need to offer something challenging, but not overly taxing.
Two running experts break down 8 types of running
1. Base runs
What is it: If you think of your running program as a house, Ruiz says, the base run would be the foundation. “You have to develop a certain amount of mileage that’s easy enough, and that’s your base run,” says Ruiz. “It’s what you can do every single time. That’s your baseline.”
Benefits: Lawson says these runs build your aerobic capacity, meaning they help your body use oxygen when you run.
How to do it: To hit a base run, think about what you consider easy in terms of mileage And Time, and start there. Remember: “This can be short to medium length, depending on the runner’s goal distance,” says Lawson. A good rule of thumb to follow is to maintain a pace that is slow enough that you can comfortably hold a conversation.
2. Run recovery
What is it: Recovery runs are done at an easy pace, and to help your body recover the day after a hard workout. “They’re creating movement and blood flow in your body, because we know stagnation is not a good thing,” says Ruiz.
Benefits: “They allow your body to recover, which is crucial during training because that’s when you’re going to see the benefits,” Lawson says. Are those benefits included? Reduce the risk of injury.
How to do it: Keep these short and avoid anything strenuous like high heat or hills, says Ruiz.
3. Long run
What is it: This is your longest run of the week. The exact distance is going to vary depending on what you’re training, 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 marathoner who can run 20 miles,” says Ruiz. “Whatever is the longest run for a given runner is a long run.”
Benefits: Long runs increase your endurance and help strengthen your heart muscle. Ruiz adds that you can also use them to create a race-like atmosphere to “rehearse” for the big day.
How to do it: These runs are usually done once a week and build on each other, getting longer as your training progresses towards the run. Ruiz cautions that, “You don’t want to jump too far in distance because there has to be a progression.”
4. Time flies
What is it: For this run, says Ruiz, you aim to keep “a pace that’s above your threshold for 30 to 60 minutes.” It’s not an all-out sprint, but it’s harder than a pace you can sustain for hours. Some coaches recommend thinking of this as your 10K race pace – yes, even if you’re not running a 10K.
Benefits: Tempo runs test your respiratory and cardiovascular systems while pushing your running boundaries. They can help your body adapt to longer and faster runs, Lawson says.
How to do it: You don’t want to overexert yourself on a tempo run—if you start going at a pace you won’t be able to sustain for long. Since this is a tough run, Lawson recommends following it with a recovery run within 24 hours.
5. Interval Run
What is it: Running a certain time or distance at a certain speed, then recovering with a short rest before going again.
Benefits: “It taxes your body more than a tempo run because you’re running faster,” adds Ruiz. This type of training can help you get faster, and improve your form.
How to do it: To avoid injury, start with short distances to see how your body responds to higher speeds. “Then you can start increasing the interval,” says Ruiz. For example, Lawson says, you can run for two, four, or five minutes at a hard pace and then have a minute or two of recovery time.
What is it: The Swedish word for “speed play” is similar to a fartlek break because, as the name suggests, you’re playing as fast as your body can run. However, a fartlek is not as rigid as an interval run. “With the fartlek, you’re just throwing all the intervals in a bowl, allowing them to mix,” says Ruiz. “You can run at many different speeds within the same run.”
Benefits: Like intervals, farts will improve your speed. And they’re great for beginners because you can choose how fast and how long you go
How to do it: “You can incorporate farts at the beginning, middle and end of your training program,” says Ruiz. Sprint for two minutes. Race the stop sign. Walk for 30 seconds. A fartlake is your playground!
7. Hill repeats
What is it: This involves running, walking or jogging up an incline as fast as possible, then back up at least five times. “The goal is to improve your leg strength and your fitness,” says Lawson, who adds that this is his favorite type of run. “This will help you expend less energy when you’re running or racing.”
Benefits: Even if hill repeats make you feel like Sisyphus on his worst day, they’re well worth the effort. This type of running gives your legs and glutes some serious strength, making it easier for you to run up hills or flat ground, and it improves your running form to help you become more efficient.
How to do it: Find a hill and aim for 30, 60, or 90 seconds, or until you hit a certain landmark, then recover on the way back down before starting again. You can set an incline on a treadmill and do repetitions on it. Lawson adds that hill repeats should also be followed with a recovery run.
8. Progress Run
What is it: These runs start at a slow pace and get progressively faster as the run progresses.
Benefits: This type of running helps improve your stamina, “and teaches someone to run faster at the end of the race,” Lawson adds.
How to do it: You can increase your pace every mile or time segment, like every 15 minutes, says Ruiz. What works best will vary from runner to runner.