5 Basic Runs to Enhance Your Training
If you want to run faster, you’ll need to do something different then your last race. The runs below are used for various parts of your training. Weave all of them together into your training plan for improved performance, and remember to always warm up 1 – 2 miles before any workout.
In college, our coach made games out of our workouts. My favorite was the fartlek which went something like this: we would run single-file at an easy pace. Then, our coach would randomly blow his whistle every few minutes and we’d take off. The guy at the back would sprint to the front, then slow us back down. The idea was to not let the guy at the back get to the front.
The fartlek is an unstructured way to vary your speed at random intervals. It isn’t particularly easy, but for us, that friendly competition made us faster. Here are some other types of runs that will make you faster:
Easy runs are meant to be, well, easy! The majority of your runs should be at a pace where you can easily carry on a conversation. You should feel relaxed. Many coaches believe 80-90% of your training runs should be easy.
Easy runs can be used as one of your runs during the week for recovery. They help build your aerobic fitness and improve your muscular and skeletal strength. This is usually what people talk about when referring to building your base.
Intervals are intense, all out efforts followed by a period of recovery. Run these at a controlled, 95% effort. If you can talk, you’re going too slow. Interval workouts improve your running form and economy, as well as increase endurance, motivation, and fat-burning. They are most helpful in preparing for a 5k or longer distance.
An example of an interval workout might be 10 x 1/4 mile repeats at a pace at or above your race pace, followed by a 5 minute walk/jog recovery. Or, you might want to do the same workout, but use time (5 minutes vs 1/4 miles). Mix up distances depending on your goals.
Tempo runs fall somewhere below an interval, yet well above an easy run. Pick a specific distance or time, and hold a pace that feels difficult, but not all out. You should be able to talk, but not easily. These will also be hard and controlled, but for a set duration.
Tempo training runs are usually 20 to 40 minutes in length, at 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than your 10-K race pace. There are several benefits of tempo runs, such as increasing your lactate threshold to run faster at easier effort levels. They are also a great way to simulate race pace and mentally prepare for hitting your goal.
Long runs form the foundation of half and full marathon programs. Long runs build everything from confidence, to discipline, to fat burning. Even when you’re not training for a specific marathon, do at least one “long run” each week to keep your aerobic capacities sharp. The run intensity is up to you.
Your long run will vary depending on your training plan and goals. Don’t increase your long run by more than 15% per week, as increasing mileage too fast is a path to injury. Some marathon plans build to runs as long a 22 miles, others only to 16.
Bart Yasso invented this workout as a way to predict marathon time. It’s also a great tool to help train for a specific time goal. The idea is simple: if you want to run a marathon in 2:45, 3:39, or 4:11, you should train to the point where you can run 10 x 800m intervals in the same time, 2:45, 3:39 or 4:11 (in minutes vs. hours).