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5 Types of Runs Every Runner Should Do

A balanced and effective training plan should incorporate a variety of different runs of different lengths, speeds and intensities. Whether you are an experienced runner or completely new, these types of runs will help you become a better and more rounded runner.

Recovery Runs

These are runs that focus all on recovery and regeneration and getting the body and mind ready for the next hard session. They are often best used the day after a hard session such as interval reps should be kept at a very comfortable pace.

One of the main benefits include increasing the amount of blood flow to muscles and tendons which aids the recovery process by delivering more oxygen and metabolic substances such as glucose to the muscles.

Easy runs

Easy runs should make up the bulk of a training programme and should be completed at natural pace. Easy runs should not be challenging (hence the name) and they allow the body to run more mileage without as much stress placed on the body.

How fast should these runs be? Well no quicker than 90 seconds per mile slower than your 5k race pace and ideally up to 2 minutes per mile slower. For example if you run 5k in 15:30, that’s 5 minutes per mile so your easy runs should be done no faster 6:30 minute per mile and ideally slower than 7 minute per mile pace. In terms of heart rate, easy runs should be around 70% of maximum.

Easy runs contain a huge number of benefits such as increased capillary network, increasing the fat adaptation effect or strengthening bones, ligaments and tendons all of which help to improve aerobic performance

Long Runs

As the name suggests these runs are the longest runs of your week and they can vary substantially depending on what you are training for. Often these runs can be completed at an easy or moderate pace and occasionally (such as training for a marathon) there may be a session integrated within a long run. The importance of these runs will also vary depending on what you are training for. A long run may be more important to someone training for a marathon compared to someone training for a 1500m.

Typically these runs should account for approximately 20-25% of your weekly volume. For example if you run 60 miles per week, your long run should be within the 12-15 mile range. However, some coaches suggest that long runs can be up to 30% of your weekly volume (for that 60 mile per week athlete this equates to 18 miles) especially if the focus of the training block is on developing endurance for an upcoming marathon.

Many of the benefits of long runs are the same as easy runs although they do help improve endurance more. As well as making you a stronger physical runner they also make you a much stronger runner mentally too.


You may hear threshold or tempo used interchangeably however they are actually a little different.

Threshold running is running at a pace that is just below the lactate threshold. This means that lactate does not accumulate but stays at a fairly consistent level in the blood. We can usually sustain threshold pace for approximately 60-minutes. So for professional athletes this may be their half-marathon pace whilst for some it may be closer to 10-mile or 10-kilometre pace. However these paces are on race day, so in the middle of a training block its common to break periods of threshold running into chunks with recovery in the middle. For example a session of 3-4 x 8 minutes at threshold pace with 2 minutes recovery.

Tempo runs on the other hand are usually slower and longer than threshold workouts. Tempo runs can vary in length and therefore speed which could be 90-minute race pace to marathon race pace. Example workouts include a 30-minute tempo run at marathon pace.

One of the main benefits of tempo/threshold training includes raising your lactate threshold so you can run at a faster pace for the same given intensity or the same pace as your competitors for a lower work out put.

For a threshold workout your heart rate should be around 85-90% of maximum whilst for tempo runs your heart rate should be a little lower at around 80-85%. However beware of heart rate as a great number of variables such as time of day, temperature or recovery status can impact heart rate.

Speed Sessions

An 800m runner and a marathon runner will probably think of speed work as completely separate things. These sessions not all about sprinting as hard as you can until you can run no longer, rather they are controlled but hard efforts. They may encompass efforts such as V̇O2 max intervals (6x800m), speed endurance intervals (200m reps) or all out maximum speed work (60-120m reps).

Quite often, speed sessions may take place on a track in order to accurately measure time and distance. However speed work can be completed anywhere in the form of fartlek workouts and hill repeats are often thought of as speed work in disguise with the added benefit of building strength without as much impact force.

Heart rate for V̇O2 max intervals should be around 90-95% of maximum and for sessions faster than this your heart rate is likely to be greater than 95% of maximum.

Speed sessions are useful because they help improve running economy, help increase the recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibres, increase muscle power and increase the range of motion around joints.

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