Types of Runs

What’s Included?

  • Why is it important to incorporate different types of runs?
  • What are the different types of runs?
  • How much of each type should you do?

Why is it important?

Incorporating different types of runs helps you to customize your training to reach your specific goals & become a more well-balanced runner.

While incorporating all types of runs can be beneficial, how much you incorporate each type of run will depend upon your goals, your fitness level, and which phase of training you’re currently in. Incorporating different styles of running can also make running more fun, help you learn and grow as a runner, and challenge you in new and exciting ways!


What are the types of runs?

Easy, Recovery, and Base Runs

While each of these types of runs may be slightly different, they do share some common characteristics. These types of runs should be done at an easy, maintainable, and comfortable conversational pace. Easy runs and base runs help to build your endurance and cardio while shake out runs & recovery runs can help to loosen up your legs and aid in recovery.

Long Runs

Long runs are important when training for a specific race – but can also be important for ALL runners in all seasons of running. They help to push you past your current level of ability & build your stamina, endurance, and tolerance for mileage. Most long runs should be done at an easy or comfortable pace but sometimes can be modified for different goals. Speed is not paramount here & should only be incorporated strategically. Your long run can increase slightly each week depending upon what you are training for & your personal running goals.

Interval Runs

This type of run includes intervals of speed or harder effort between planned periods of rest (example: run 60 seconds, rest 30 seconds, repeat 6 times). Interval runs are often shorter or longer in duration, but it is advisable not to have an interval shorter than 30 seconds or longer than five minutes. The purpose of intervals is to increase your endurance, your lactic threshold (the pace/effort at which running starts to feel “hard” for you), and improve recovery time. Interval intensity can be measured by things such as pace, time, distance, and heart rate.

Tempo Runs

Typically done 30-45 seconds slower than your 5k pace or at a pace that you can sustain for at-least 20 minutes. A tempo run should feel like a hard effort, but it should also feel controlled & sustainable. Tempo runs condition your body to hold harder paces for longer durations & should be anywhere between 10-60 minutes in duration depending upon your fitness level, what you’re training for, and your overall training load.

Progression Run

This is a run that starts at a particular pace and ends at a faster pace by the end of the run. These are a great way to build your endurance and your fitness without putting as much stress on your body as a tempo run. This is also a great run for practicing race strategies, since you’re increasing your effort and pace throughout the run (a commonly recommended race strategy is to do negative splits).

Example: Mile one (8:00/mile), Mile two (7:45/mile), Mile three (7:30/mile), etc.

Time Trial Run

These should be done at or near goal race-pace. These are often used to determine goals, assess fitness levels, and reassess progress over time. It can also be a helpful way to build endurance and practice “all out efforts” at a shorter duration.

Hill & Incline Runs

These should be incorporated to strategically to add an element of elevation and challenge to your running routine. They can often put more stress on the body, so they should be incorporated mindfully and intentionally. They are normally done at tempo-pace to build speed and strength.


How much of each?

How much of each type of run you incorporate will depend upon your specific needs and goals as a runner. While there isn’t a “fast and easy” way to figure out what will work best for you, there are some general guidelines to follow when structuring your training…

1.) 80/20 RULE:

80% of your weekly mileage should be done at an easy effort (easy runs, long runs, base runs, recovery runs, the slower parts of progression runs) while 20% should be done at a higher intensity (intervals, tempo runs, the harder parts of progression runs, hills, etc.). Keeping an approximate 80/20 relationship will ensure that you’re safely incorporating some challenge & speed into your routine.

2.) INVERSE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MILEAGE AND INTENSITY:

There is an inverse relationship between mileage and intensity – meaning that if your mileage is increasing, then your intensity should decrease. You should not dramatically increase BOTH intensity and mileage at the same time – this can lead to burnout, stress, and injuries.

3.) OTHER FACTORS:

Which types of workouts you incorporate & how much of each one you incorporate should be determined on an individual basis because we are all different. You should consider things including: your current fitness level, your strengths and weaknesses as a runner, your goals & what you’d like to train for.

If you’d like more guidance as you figure out what types of runs to incorporate into your schedule, feel free to reach out to one of our AIM coaches for more assistance!

Amy Haas
Run with Aim, LLC
UESCA Certified Running Coach
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach

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