Types of Runs

These are some different types of runs you will see referred to throughout the running community. All of these types of runs are done to accomplish different goals and objectives.

Easy Run/Recovery Run

A run at an easy pace done for recovery or simple fun and enjoyment. Most of a beginner’s runs should be easy runs. These runs improve a runner’s aerobic conditioning. The intensity of these runs should allow you to talk using full sentences (60-75% of your maximum HR).

Long Runs

Typically 25-30% of your weekly mileage and are usually done once a week. These are usually done at a comfortable, fairly easy pace. We often refer to them here as LSD -- long, slow distance or long steady distance.

Long run distance is determined by your goals. A long run might be anywhere from 5 miles to 25 or more (for an ultra marathoner). "_______ pace runs" refer to running your predicted or expected race pace. So if a workout were to call for doing miles at "marathon pace," that means running at your predicted marathon pace per mile. That could be anything from 5:00/mile for someone fast to 12:00 minutes a mile for someone slower. A 5K race plan may call for doing intervals (explained below) at your 1 mile race pace. A good way to figure out your expected paces is to use an online calculator. The McMillian Calculator is excellent.

Tempo Run

Is a run at around your 10K race pace (or 80-85% of your MHR). It's often described as being "comfortably hard" and it's a challenging, but manageable pace. You want to finish a tempo feeling worked, but not exhausted. Most tempo runs consist of 10-15 minutes of easy running, then the tempo part, then 10-15 minutes to cool down. Tempo runs build speed and teach your body to run at a certain pace.

Cruise Intervals

Like tempo runs, these runs are designed to help you learn to deal with the accumulation of blood lactate and are sometimes called lactate threshold runs. Cruise intervals usually last 3 to 15 minutes in length, with 1-2 minutes of recovery for each 5 minutes of run time.  


Is a fun word that you can say and make non-runners and often runners snicker. It's a Swedish word meaning "speed play." In a fartlek, you would run hard to say a telephone pole, and then slow down, then run hard again to the next object. It's just basically bursts of speed in the middle of a workout. It can be easy or hard. There's no set distance or speed, it's very informal and can be done in any fashion you decide for that day. Fartleks are good beginning runners who want to experiment with speedwork.  

Repeats/Track Workouts

Typically refers to a track workout, as you can imagine, though you can do them elsewhere. Usually consists of a set distance (400 meters, 800 meters,) that you run at a fast pace. Between each set distance, you recover by either jogging slowly or walking. An example of a track workout could be 4x800. This means you run four sets of 800 meters (2 laps or half mile) at a certain pace. Between those faster runs, you will walk or jog to recover. Usually rest time is equivalent to how much time it takes you to run the distance or the time it takes for you to get your breath back and ready to run fast again. Track workouts build speed and improve aerobic capacity.  


Dividing your run into short periods of alternating speeds, such as a slow interval of jogging followed by a high-intensity interval where you sprint as fast as possible. Interval training is important not only because it helps make you a better runner but also because it burns more fat than running at a steady pace.  


A form of repeats that are faster and shorter than intervals with full recovery between them (usually 4-6 times as long as the repetition). These are used for improvement of anaerobic capacity, running form and running economy.


An interval workout of increasing interval lengths, such as 200-400-600-800 meters.


An interval workout of decreasing interval lengths, such as 800-600-400-200 meters.


A combination of a ladder and a cutdown, such as 200-400-600-800-600-400-200 meters.  

Hill Repeats

Typically are runs up a hill at a fast pace to build strength and easy jog down for recovery.  


Short, controlled bursts of running of 50 to 150 meters designed to improve efficiency, work on form, etc. Often done at the end of a run.  

Race Distances

  • 5k - 3.1 miles
  • 10k - 6.2 miles
  • Half marathon – A 13.1 mile race.
  • Marathon – A 26.2 mile race.
  • Ultra marathon – A very long race, possibly 100 miles.