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Eight Types of Running Workouts
If you want to become a better runner, the best way to do that is to run, of course. It’s also important to vary the types of running workouts you do. Variety in your running workouts helps strengthen your cardiovascular system and your muscles. It also helps you boost endurance, running economy, efficiency and aerobic capacity. Additionally, by not doing the same thing day in and day out, it reduces your chance of injury – and boredom.
It’s as important to run slow as it is to run fast. It’s important to be able to sustain speed as it is to vary the intensity of segments during your workout. Runners of all levels practice these 8 basic running workouts.
These short to moderate-length runs will make up the bulk of your weekly training mileage. They should be done at your natural pace and are not meant to be overly challenging. You can make big improvements in your endurance, aerobic capacity and running economy with base runs simply because you do them so often.
Example : 5 miles at your natural pace.
This run is designed to begin at your natural pace and end at a faster pace, closer to how you hope to perform during a race. They are moderately challenging workouts and require more recovery time than base runs but less than tempo or interval runs.
Example : 5 miles at your natural pace, 1 mile at marathon pace.
When you set out on a long run, your main goal is to increase the distance over what you can comfortably do on your base runs. By increasing your raw endurance, you won’t feel limited going the distance during a race. You don’t need to run faster than your normal pace during long runs, but if you want to challenge yourself, you can increase your pace or mix in some intervals.
Example : 10 miles at your natural pace.
These are base runs that mix in a few intervals of varying distance and duration. They are less structured than interval runs and give you a way to play with speed without the stress. For example, you may want to challenge yourself to run faster just until you get to a certain tree, sign or street. There are no rules with these workouts – just have fun with them!
Example : 5 miles at your natural pace with 10 spurts of increased speed ranging between 30 seconds and 1 minute each, followed by 1 minute recoveries.
These are workouts that contain short or long bursts of intense effort separated by equal or slightly longer segments of slower running, jogging or walking. The intense segments should have you pushing yourself to a point where you are gasping for air and counting the seconds until you can stop. These running workouts help increase speed and boost running economy, efficiency and fatigue resistance.
Example : 1 mile of jogging to warm up, followed by 5 sets of 1000 meter runs at 5k pace with light jogging between intervals, followed by 1 mile of jogging to cool down.
Also called threshold runs, this is a run performed at the fastest pace you can sustain for a certain period of time. These workouts help you both increase sustained speed and the amount of time you can sustain that pace. They are very challenging runs that require some time to recover from afterwards. The best way to figure out the pace you can run is to focus on your breathing – you should be able to talk in broken sentences but not be able to carry on a full conversation or be gasping for air.
Example : 1 mile of jogging to warm up, followed by 3 miles at the fastest pace that can be sustained, followed by 1 mile of jogging to cool down.
As the name implies, these are short segments of uphill running that you’ll repeat to increase aerobic power, high-intensity fatigue resistance, pain tolerance and strength. The best type of hill to run these on has a moderate gradient of about 4 – 6 percent.
Example : 2 miles of jogging to warm up, followed by 10 sets of 45 second hill runs with 1-2 minutes of recovery between sets, followed by 2 miles of jogging to cool down.
Also called easy runs, these are short runs done at a relatively easy pace. They are best done after a hard workout, such as interval or tempo runs, so you can still add some mileage to your training routine without pushing your body too much. Feel free to do these as slow as you need to in order to overcome any lingering fatigue or soreness.
Example : 3 miles at an easy pace on the day after intervals, hill repeats or tempo runs.