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Home arrow Fitness arrow Running arrow 9 Types of Running Workouts

9 Types of Running Workouts

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 14, 2022
13 min read 1477 Views 0 Comments
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Have you ever wondered about the types of running that exist? Today, we learn about these types, how to execute them, and their respective importance. Stay locked in!

types of running

There are tons of crucial tricks to becoming one of the best runners, and it does not, in any way, include repeating the same running workout, mile after mile, at roughly the same pace until the workout gets engraved in your system.

Going over the same routine will result in what we refer to as the exercise plateau, where you experience no increase in exercise performance, and demotivation, boredom, and even injury begin to set in.

Now you rarely see professional athletes suffer from exercise retardation, so what is the trick behind their consistent growth, and how do they maintain their elite-level performance?

Well, it is simple, actually. The best runners utilize a mixture of different running workouts, allowing them to train for many different situations and topography while offering varying strength workouts.

So how then can you replicate these practices to become a better runner? Today’s article looks at the different types of running workouts, how to execute them, and why they are necessary to stimulate big improvements.

Lace your running shoes as we head off in great detail.

9 Types of Running

Granted, employing different running workouts in your training regimen serves a specific purpose and offers a unique set of benefits, especially at elevated levels, but their foundation remains the same.

However, the road to attaining elite-runner status starts with knowing what each type of running workout is and how to safely carry them out – avoiding injury at all costs is a priority for all top athletes.

That is because a workout program that contains varying exercises helps you reap the maximum benefit from each workout session (increased physical and mental fitness, better race time, weight maintenance, etc.).

Therefore, you must understand this as it allows you to strategize better to meet your running/fitness goals. So, without further ado, let us break down each of the 9 types of running workouts and how to practice them.

#1 Base run/Daily workout

Base runs are perhaps one of the most talked about running workouts. They are typically short-to-moderate-length runs undertaken at a runner’s natural pace. Gauging by heart rate, your base runs typically fall between 70–80% of your maximum heart rate.

While the base run is not necessarily a hard workout, it is the most frequent; these runs make up the bulk of your weekly training mileage and are of utmost importance to beginner and expert runners.

Still, being a medium-effort workout does not mean it does not provide any benefit at a high level. The main function of base runs is not-so-subtly hidden in its name: building a solid base for your running workouts.

As such, it stimulates big improvements in a runner’s aerobic capacity, raw endurance, and running economy. In essence, base runs are what conditions your body to the biomechanics of running, allowing you to establish practical running habits, especially when starting for the first time. 

In any case, the more physiological adaptations you are able to accomplish, such as anaerobic and aerobic capacity, lactate management, energy usage, etc., the better you are as a runner.

The idea with base runs revolves more around completing each training cycle, so you do not have to worry about how fast you complete each session. However, you still need to monitor your pacing to ensure you are not running too fast or too slow.

To get a better picture of what that is like, you should be able to hold a conversation without feeling overly exhausted at the end of your race.

Regarding how often you should schedule a base run, the answer depends on your running goals, fitness level, and race pace.

As a beginner, we suggest having one day of base training, sticking to a 2 to 4-mile range, with each session lasting at least 20 minutes.

Conversely, if you are more of an experienced runner who trains 5 days a week, your base training schedule can go up to 2 to 3 days weekly. You can go as far as running 10 miles each session.

#2 Long runs 

The name of the game here is cardiovascular endurance, which is precisely what long runs are – somewhat of an upgraded version of base runs.

In a more refined sense, a long run is one that exceeds your typical daily mileage (you maintain your natural pace while logging in more miles), resulting in a number of physiological benefits such as increased cardiovascular and muscular endurance, musculoskeletal strength, aerobic capacity, and fat to fuel conversion capabilities.

The total distance and time of a long run naturally vary across individuals, as it is a function of their current fitness level. However, a long run should last long enough that you, upon completion, experience moderate to severe fatigue.

For numbers, anything beyond 5 miles is a long run. Excellent examples include a 15-mile run, any race with the suffix “thon,” cross-country races, etc. There is no ideal race pace. Yes, the benchmark settles on a runner’s natural pace, but the variation determines your pace.

If you are running a marathon, you will need to go at marathon pace; if you are running a half-marathon, you will need to go at half-marathon, and so on and so forth. As such, you must schedule your training regimen based on these factors.

#3 Fartleks

Fartlek is a Swedish term that translates to “speed play.” Fartleks are unconventional speed workouts that revolve around continuous endurance running and interval training. That means you go about regular and interval runs, alternating between slow jogging and fast running intervals. 

However, you do not need to rely on predetermined distances and intensities per interval throughout this workout. The blend of slow jogging and fast running develops increased resistance and running efficiency at faster speeds.

The appealing aspect of fartleks is that it allows you to improve your aerobic capacity without the limitations associated with other speed workouts.

Unlike the traditional interval session, you are free to experiment with your workout. In addition, it removes the pressure of hitting specific speed and distance targets, allowing runners to dedicate all their focus to improving their running economy.

Similarly, since this interval training allows so much flexibility, incorporating them into your training regimen becomes fairly easy. But this could also prove quite tricky, figuring out a plan that actually works.

Regarding how to practice fartleks, you could try:

  • Alternating between slow and fast running every couple of minutes. These minute markers are more guidelines than set rules, so you should not be too hard on yourself if you miss a couple.
  • Picking a route with varying terrain and using terrain changes or landmarks as markers to indicate your change of pace.
  • Deciding on your total race time or length and choosing the number of intervals you wish to attain. An example is running 5 miles with 8 intervals in between. 

Scheduling at least one day of fartlek training is crucial if you plan to develop your aerobic efficiency. They also serve as suitable replacements for threshold and tempo runs.

#4 Hill repeats

Hill repeats are a subsection of interval training that involves repetitive sessions of uphill running and downhill jogs/walks. The primary difference between hill repeats and other interval workouts is speed play.

Unlike other interval workouts where you focus on fast running speeds, hill repeats have you exerting energy toward combating the incline. This hard workout is generally intended to improve muscle strength, pain tolerance, high-intensity fatigue resistance, aerobic capacity, and aerobic power.

The perfect hill to run hill repeats features a gradient between 4–6% – not too steep that you find it difficult to reach the summit and not too easy that you lose out on all the benefits.

Conversely, runners should only embark on this workout after a solid base-building period, as it allows them to tackle harder high-intensity training programs. That is because the injury factor doing hill repeats is on the high side.

There are many variations of this workout, and regarding a potential training schedule, we recommend doing hill repeats 2–3 times weekly, especially if you are preparing for a hilly race, half-marathon, or marathon.

A great way to do hill repeats is to do 10 x 60 minutes hill repeats at hard effort (running at 2 miles per hour). 

#5 Progression run 

Progression runs begin at a runner’s natural pace and end at a faster pace. These runs are typically more challenging than base runs but are generally easier than interval runs.

The basic idea behind this medium-effort workout is that you start at an easy pace and gradually build up speed until the end of your race, running at your fastest pace. That way, you condition your body to hold form despite fatigue setting in – a mix of mental strength and endurance.

The major selling point with progression runs is that it trains your aerobic and anaerobic systems in one go without the limitations that come with interval runs (overworking your muscles and needing significant rest time to recover).

It may not look like an all too daunting task, but steadily building pace is quite the challenge for many runners since many of them tend to go at full burst, which results in them overstepping their energetic boundaries mid-race.

Even so, regarding a potential training cycle, we suggest penciling in at least 1 day for progression runs (based on your race goals). On that account, a typical progression run would be 5 miles at your natural pace, followed by 1 mile at marathon pace, and then 1 mile at half-marathon pace.

Just in case you are wondering, the average half-marathon pace for ages 20 to 35 (men and women inclusive) peaks at 12 minutes per mile (beginner level). 

When it comes to the average marathon pace, considering the same age range, the average marathon pace for men peaks at about 11:20 minutes per mile, while women have an average marathon pace of 12:43 minutes per mile.

#6 Recovery run 

A recovery run is a short distance run undertaken at a runner’s natural pace, allowing them to remain active while their bodies are in recovery mode. 

Contrarily, there are runners who opt for rest days where they do not partake in any form of training whatsoever. On the other hand, several runners partake in recovery runs to keep them going. 

Recovery runs are a form of active recovery for runners that engage in any hard workout 4 to 5 times weekly. In a sense, recovery runs add a little volume to a runner’s weekly training mileage without throwing their bodies out of sync for more important running workouts. 

In fact, the main objective of a recovery run is to prolong heart and muscle operation, which leads to increased blood circulation and faster recovery time while avoiding lethargy. 

Even so, recovery runs are not strictly for hardcore runners; if, as a beginner, you are well aware that your body is reaching its limit, you could opt for recovery runs instead of full rest days. Then again, it depends on how much your body can handle.

On that account, scheduling your recovery runs the day after hard workouts like long runs, threshold runs, and interval runs would be best. An excellent example would be to complete a 4-mile run at a natural pace.

Nonetheless, when doing recovery runs, you must stick to running at a slower pace than a marathon pace so that your performance does not take any significant hit despite lingering fatigue from previous workouts.

Conversely, with recovery runs, your heart rate should not exceed 76% of your threshold heart rate; anything more means running at a relatively fast pace. To get a good idea of how fast you run, you could employ the “talk test.” You run too fast if you cannot complete your sentences while speaking.

#7 Tempo run

Tempo runs, referred to as threshold runs, are designed to improve speed, primarily during aerobic workouts.

Tempo runs are what we refer to as a sustained effort at lactate threshold intensity (anaerobic threshold); expert runners muster the fastest pace they can sustain for one hour, while less fit runners do the same for 20 minutes.

The reason behind this is that your metabolic system releases a byproduct called lactate each time you exercise. Lactate production occurs when your lungs cannot provide the oxygen required to fuel your runs.

On the one hand, lactate serves as an alternative energy source, powering your muscles when there is a lack of oxygen; lactate production could be low or high, depending on the intensity of your exercise.

However, the downside of having excess lactate is that it interferes with your muscular system, messing with your muscle ability to contract and inducing fatigue. That is where tempo runs and increasing your lactate threshold comes into play.

The lactate threshold refers to the level whereby your high-intensity exercise causes your body to accumulate more lactate in your blood faster than it can remove.

Doing tempo runs improves two key things: your body’s ability to clear lactate equally as fast as it is produced and your VO2 max. As such, tempo runs enable runners to run longer distances at faster speeds without them making the switch to an anaerobic state.

Still, finding your tempo run pace is a prerogative to completing this exercise successfully and gaining the benefits. However, the idea is that you stick to a lactate threshold pace, which is between 70–80% of your maximum heart rate.

Regarding a potential tempo run schedule, running twice a week is perfect for any running goal. As for a simple practice routine, start with a 10-minute warm-up; afterward, run at the maximum pace you can sustain for 30 minutes.

#8 Sprints

Sprinting is a form of speed workout that involves running at your fastest pace over a short distance. This workout allows runners to test their cardiovascular limits while developing their endurance. As such, it is an important workout for pure sprinters and long-distance runners. 

Regarding sprints, some workout variations rank as pure sprints while others fall under the HIIT class. The chief distances for pure sprints include 100, 200, and 400 meters. 

Regarding scheduling sprinting workouts, twice a week is enough. However, if you are preparing for a long-distance race, you are free to expound on your training. 

As for a simple workout routine, start with a 10-minute warm-up, followed by a 4×100 meter run with recovery between each interval and a 10-minute cool-down. 

#9 Stride-outs 

Stride-outs are short bouts of fast pace running coupled with recovery between intervals. Stride-outs peak as one of the more versatile running types. You can include them in warm-up and cool-down exercises, easy runs, or a single workout.

Nonetheless, this running workout helps increase running economy while focusing on turnover and running form. Concerning a potential training cycle, penciling in strides at least once a week is enough to reap all the benefits.

Try Running Supplements for Faster Recovery

Partaking in a blend of these running types is an excellent way of transforming your running performance and overall health. However, the road to your fitness goals does not simply end at the workout stage.

The reason for this is that to gain significant growth, you need to avail your body of proper rest to recover from the beat down. Your recovery should align with your training to get the most out of your routine.

But then again, there are many tried and trusted ways to help with your workout recovery. The number one method on our list is SIS GO Energy.

If you want to check the full list of running supplements for recovery, click here.

A Word From Our Coach

From a professional standpoint, acquainting yourself with the different running workouts is not enough – that is just the beginning of your fitness journey.

You need to pay close attention to your dietary requirements as this will greatly influence the outcome of your training. That is because irrespective of how much you exercise, bad dietary practices can impede running performance, impair metabolism, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, several of these running types come with different variations. Therefore, enlisting the help of a certified trainer is tantamount. That way, you are efficient with your training and can better avoid injuries.


Running is an excellent way to improve your heart, immune, and mental health while losing weight and developing your musculoskeletal system.

You can enlist the different types of running workouts to gain these important benefits, but, as with all things exercises, a lack of diversity in your training program will impede your running performance and results.

Therefore, regardless of your goals as a runner, including a mix of the different running types into your workout regimen will undoubtedly lead to faster gains.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Isabel Mayfield
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 14, 2022
13 min read 1477 Views 0 Comments

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