As more people seem to be discovering the mental, muscular, and cardiovascular health benefits of running, there’s never been a better time to take up this practice. However, if you want to use this resource to the fullest, you need to know the different types of running first.
When you know what each method of running is and what specific benefit it offers, it’ll be easier to plan a training routine and more challenging workouts.
Since different running techniques suit different types of runners, knowing the types of runs you can practice will help you find the perfect running pace for you.
So, get your best running shoes ready because here are the basic types of training runs to know!
Types of Running
There are several different running methods you can employ when on the track. Some of the most important ones are:
1. Interval Runs
Interval runs involve structured and intense sessions of physical activity.
Unlike other types of runs, interval sessions require runners to move at faster running speeds. The ultimate aim of these high-speed workouts is to train your anaerobic system to complement your aerobic system.
When you aren’t running at your fastest pace, like during interval training, your aerobic system can supply much, if not all, of the oxygen your body needs.
But when you push yourself to your fastest running speeds, your aerobic system isn’t able to keep up and your anaerobic system has to kick in. Intense interval training helps your body to build the high-intensity fatigue resistance it needs to pull through.
Practicing this technique helps to build raw endurance, as well as mental toughness, and push your anaerobic threshold.
However, running on the explosive power of your anaerobic system for a long period can be bad for your health and put you at risk of injury. This is why interval workouts use this harder high-intensity training program in short bursts with ample time to rest in between.
The idea is that training your body this way will help it to get used to tapping into its anaerobic system without wearing it out.
Depending on factors like your current level of fitness and your training goals, you can set an appropriate distance and structure your training regimen.
2. Fartlek Method of Running
Simply put, this is the less intense running workout version of interval training.
Fartlek is a Swedish word that translates to, “speed play.” The fartlek method of running is a type of track workout used to help recreational and sub-elite runners build their running speeds.
As the name implies, most of the activities involved in fartlek training are tweaking your running routine in a malleable manner. This means mixing slow and fast pace intervals without setting a precise running intensity or distance for each interval.
While intense interval runs are used to enhance your anaerobic system on the back of sustained effort to exhaustion, with a fartlek workout, you’re more focused on building aerobic fitness without having to stick to any given form of interval training.
The lack of a specific structure or training routine here can be confusing for some fit runners, but it does have its benefits.
For example, using the fartlek method of running means that you can shed the unconscious pressure of having to meet any specific distance or time target on training days.
Therefore, you can relax more easily and just work on building your aerobic power and overall aerobic fitness without stress.
3. Recovery Runs
Another type of running that lives up to its name is recovery runs. This type of running involves movement at a slower pace, and overall shorter sessions.
For fit runners to become faster on the track, intentionally slower runs can seem counterintuitive to realizing training goals. However, making the most of a two-minute jogging recovery between reps is a matter of perspective.
While pushing your lactate threshold pace and doing one high-intensity sprint after the other will surely increase your running pace, if you don’t give your body the much-needed time to better manage the metabolic byproduct of such activities, you’re putting yourself at risk of injury.
Running and standing recoveries are great because they help your body better manage the after-effects of intense or long-distance road running. The best part is that these types of runs afford you the time you need to recover without negatively affecting your weekly training mileage.
Sure, if you’re intent on hitting your weekly mileage as fast as possible, taking things slow might be a bit of a pain. But recovery runs should never be overlooked as they can make all the difference, especially if you’re a beginner runner or injury-prone runner.
4. Tempo Runs
Still along the lines of slowing your training cycle a little (but not too slow this time) is the tempo method of running.
We consider it one of the best types of running for a beginner runner because of the ease with which you can fit these training plans into your regimen.
Rather than stick to either a high-intensity training program or a slow running pace, with tempo runs you get to run at a more comfortable pace in-between these extremes.
This moderate-intensity type of run has a specific goal that must be achieved and maintained if you want to improve your current level of fitness with it.
Apart from helping you run more comfortably, the biggest influence of this method of running is on your lactate threshold intensity.
For the uninitiated, one metabolic byproduct of workouts like running is lactate. Lactate is good because it gives your body an energy source to draw from when you can’t get enough oxygen. However, it’s also bad because sometimes the body produces more lactate than is needed. The excess lactate ends up impairing muscle capacity and contributing to the fatigue factor.
When you’re able to achieve the ideal tempo run pace, you can effectively clear all that excess lactate from your system, helping you run faster and cleaner.
5. Steep Hill Repeats
Steep hill repetitions are one of the types of running that takes a little getting used to. This is because a hill sprint can be grueling, to say the least.
One thing worth mentioning is that this method of running is sometimes used to build speedwork as it’s remarkably similar to interval runs – it involves short and repeated bursts of hard effort running.
However, with a hill sprint, the ultimate goal isn’t increasing your speed or pace.
You typically start the ideal hill run toward the incline. By extension, hill repetitions are aimed at building aerobic fitness and developing a better tolerance to the fatigue factor.
It also helps enhance the muscular strength in your legs, helping you achieve more explosive power when you move at faster speeds.
While you’re likely to see results faster when you run on steep hills, keep in mind that it’s also easier to over-extend yourself this way. You could also be risking knee injuries and falls with this type of running method, so to start, you should opt for hills with a steady incline.
6. Long-Distance Road Running
Long-distance road running, or endurance running, involves running at your natural pace across long distances. The distance you choose to cover with this method of running is strongly influenced by your current level of endurance and your training goals.
As a long-distance runner, endurance level is particularly important because, even though you’re moving at low running speeds and your normal pace, you’re expected to keep this up for an extended period across long distances.
If you can successfully maintain a natural pace for long stretches, you’ll be able to build your raw endurance levels even more and be better prepared for your next big race.
As far as training plans go, this one isn’t necessarily the flashiest, but it does have its merits.
For example, this type of running enhances your heart strength. You can use the best fitness trackers to measure your maximum heart rate and make improvements as necessary. It also positively influences your muscular strength.
You’d also be pushing your anaerobic threshold subtly and improving your aerobic fitness at the same time.
7. Base Runs
Think of long-distance road running but shorter and base runs is what you get! This training program doesn’t require you to push yourself to the limit or even change your natural pace for that matter.
However, individual base runs will likely have to constitute a larger percentage of your weekly training mileage because the ultimate aim of this method of running is to assist you with establishing a solid base pace for your running efforts.
In this sense, base runs are somewhat similar to recovery runs.
They’re also a great place to start for the beginner runner as they help you acclimatize to the sensation and biomechanics of running. They also hone your body system to meet the physiological demands of running by promoting actions like lactate management and better energy utilization.
During the base-building period, you’ll also be able to start developing your aerobic and anaerobic capacity as well.
8. Progression Method of Running
This type of running is considered the best by many fitness runners, us included! And it’s simple to do, too.
All you have to do is start out running at a slower pace and as you get closer to the end of your route, pick up your speed to a marathon pace or something similar. How slow you start the race and the speed with which you end it is entirely up to you!
This form of running has one immediately clear benefit – the slow pace you start with helps to build your aerobic system and the faster pace you end the race with hones your anaerobic system. So, you can get the best of both worlds in a single training session!
These types of runs are also ideal for another reason – most runners go all out from the get-go with their slow or intense sessions.
However, the heavy focus that progression runs places on maintaining a steady pace means that you’ll have to be more conscious of your pacing habits. As a result, it’s the perfect system for helping recreational or sub-elite runners become better and more precise with their pacing.
The above-mentioned running methods are some of the best types of running regimes you can include in your training plan.
Keep in mind that regardless of whether you’re a beginner or pro runner, if you want to improve your performance, you need to evaluate your training plans from time to time to see if they align with your goals. This way, you’ll be able to make the necessary adjustments and ensure you get the exact results you want to see.
Also, make sure you learn easy hip-strengthening exercises for runners before you hit the road!