Become A Runner, Part 4: Types of Runs

16 Aug, 2019 • by Admin

As a new runner, any miles you run help you improve, but as you gain more experience, you learn the importance of different types of runs.

In order to reach your peak potential, you need to practice different types of running workout types. The Theory of Supercompensation involves a process of breaking down through workouts and using recovery to make gains.

Certain types of workouts support different running goals, and it is how you mix and match these different run types and their underlying variables that are able to maximize your performance and fitness levels.

Different run types translates to the following ideas: long runs build up your endurance; short, hard, intense runs build up your speed; and targeted training or simulation runs test your speed endurance at a target race goal.

According to your experience level and your distance and time goal, you leverage a mix of these types of runs and a few other run workout types to structure your training for maximum benefits.

1. Base

The base run is your normal daily type of running, everything seems to be moderate including distance, speed and endurance. Most of training plans filled with this kind of run majoriy of time. To build a strong aerobic engine, gradually increasing mileage during the base running is necessary. This is why base running has to start months before any goal races.

2. Long

Long run help you increase distance so it's a must training session for anyone to tackle half or full marathon. It brings your raw endurance to the next level, your body expected to be moderately to severely fatigued. If you're training for a specific race, schedule at least one long run a week to extend your ability to run longer.

The long run is vitally important to a marathon training plan for many reasons including both mental and physical adaptation. If done at the proper pace, long runs also strengthen slow twitch muscle fibers that are engaged primarily in longer aerobic efforts. Simply put, you have to train your body and mind to go the distance.

3. Recovery

A recovery run is defined as relatively short, easy-paced, run performed within 24 hours after a hard session, usually an interval workout or a long run. Recovery sessions are the easiest training day of the week, other than rest days. These easy workouts may flush out lactic acid build up, which can help prevent delayed onset of muscle soreness and speed up recovery.

Just keep in mind that recovery are only a must if you run more than three times a week. If you run just two to three times per week, each session should be a “quality workout” followed by a recovery, or cross-training, day.

A typical park loop may be enough to qualify as a recovery run. Even if you are an established endurance athlete covering 30+ miles a week, I’d still suggest no more than 3 to 4 miles for a recovery run.

4. Progression

A progression run is a run with structured pace increases from beginning to end. The distance and pace will vary based on your specific training goals. They're great for building stamina, mental strength, and teaching the body to run increasingly faster at the end of a race.

The structure of the progressive run forces runners to start slowly. It teaches them mental patience and allows the body to fully warm-up before running at a harder effort. Many runners are too eager to hit the gas pedal on their runs, progression runs will help them become more disciplined.

Progression runs increase stamina and fitness. Athletes who regularly incorporate progressive runs will actually speed up towards the end of a race when everyone else is trying desperately to hang on. The marathon race begins at mile 20.

5. Interval

Interval runs are the opposite of base runs, where you keep the same pace the whole time. Intervals can vary by the speed of sprints, grades of hills, and the length of the work versus your recovery time.

You burn more calories faster, you challenge your strength and endurance, and it helps prepare you for an actual race, where you probably won't maintain the exact same pace for the whole time.

Not all interval running is the same, and there are several different types you should be doing if you want to get stronger and faster-read on for the four main types to try. But before you start incorporating interval running workouts into your routine, you should have a solid base of three to six weeks of "just running" under your belt.

6. Tempo

Tempo runs are efforts that are performed right at your aerobic threshold, or just below the point where your body produces lactic acid due to a lack of oxygen being absorbed and delivered to working muscles. These workouts fall within 80–85 percent of max heart rate, which is about half-marathon effort or pace.

Running your tempos too hard or too easy defeats the purpose of the workout. When training for a marathon, tempo runs longer than six miles are necessary. Tempo runs should be performed about once every 10 days. They’re a good workout to start with when coming off a break or easing back into training after illness or injury since they engage your aerobic system without overly taxing your muscles or tendons like speed work or hill repeats.

7. Hill Repeat

Although hills come in all different lengths and degrees of incline, the basic concept of a hill repeat is usually the same. You run up the hill fast and then recover by jogging or walking down. Hill repeats are an excellent way for runners to build strength, improve their speed, and build their mental strength and confidence in hill running.

The intensity is critical. To make hill repeats effective you need to go very hard. In fact, when doing your eight to 10-second hill repeats, you should be going at maximum effort. If you don’t go hard enough, you’re wasting your time. As the hills progress in length, the intensity doesn’t change much. When you graduate to 40 to 60-second hill repeats, they become incredibly challenging. Your legs will flood with lactate and you will experience a high level of fatigue.

8. Fartlek

Fartlek runs are a very simple form of a long distance run. Fartlek training is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running. For some people, this could be a mix of jogging and sprinting, but for beginners it could be walking with jogging sections added in when possible.

For competitive runners, fartleks and all other types of interval runs are the key for race day readiness. The alternating speeds that are the defining point of fartleks allow runners to work both the aerobic and anaerobic training systems while simulating the ebb and flow nature of competitive running.

By alternating the intensity of your workouts, you will burn more calories than you would by keeping a steady pace. While running, the runner's body uses a combination of carbohydrate and fat, with relatively more carbohydrate metabolized at faster speeds and relatively more fat the longer the workout lasts. A fartlek workout will allow the body to adapt to using both sources of energy, with the desired adaptation towards fat metabolism occurring during slower periods. In addition, varying speeds improves cardiovascular endurance slightly better than running at a steady pace for the same time and total distance.


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