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. Always warm up 1 – 2 miles with an easy run.

In college, our coach made games out of our workouts. My favorite was the fartlek that went something like this; we’d run in single file line at an easy pace. He’d 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. You get pushed at times you don’t expect. 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 Run

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. Easy runs 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.

Interval Workouts

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. These improve your running form and economy, as well as increasing endurance, motivation, and fat-burning. Intervals are most helpful preparing for a 5k or longer.

An example of an interval workout might be 10, 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, but use time (5 minutes vs 1/4 miles). Mix up distances depending on your goals.

Tempo Run

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 to doing tempo runs. You will increase your lactate threshold to run faster at easier effort levels. Also a great way to simulate race pace and mentally prepare for hitting your goal.

Long Runs

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 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. That’s not set in stone, but increasing mileage too fast is a path to injury. Some marathon plans go as long a 22 miles, others, just 16.

Yasso 800’s

Bart Yasso invented these runs as a way to predict your marathon time. It’s also a great tool to help if you want to train for a specific time. 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, 800m intervals in the same time, 2:45, 3:39 or 4:11 (in minutes vs hours).

These are but a few of the most common types of runs while training. Find a mix of what works for your. What combination of these runs do you use in your training plans?

Nathan Freeburg
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Nathan Freeburg

Editor in Chief at Minneapolis Running
Nathan started running when he was 14. 20+ years later, he's still going. When he's not running, he enjoys exploring the city with his son, finding new restaurants with his wife, traveling, or backpacking. He loves dark beer, dark chocolate and dark coffee.

Nathan currently lives in Portland, but works in Minneapolis and runs wherever he is. Favorite Minnesota running route is anything that takes him along the Mississippi River.
Race Results.

Nathan's day job is as a senior consultant with Leadership Vision Consulting in Downtown Minneapolis.
Nathan Freeburg
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