You’re a new runner. Sure, you’ve done your time and you’ve built up your running base slowly. You can now run farther than you once could without stopping. Maybe you run 5-6 times a week and you have marked your first race on the calendar. You are mentally prepared for this next step in your running career. So, you’re reading advice online about how to take your training to the next level when… hold up! I need to run a what? What kind of run is that?!? What the whaaat? Hold up!
To help you figure this out, I’m going to break down a few basic types of training runs into terms that are easier to digest for the novice runner. Here are five workouts that you’ll find yourself adding to your training as you get ready for your next step in the running world.
1. Base Run – Running at your natural pace, a base run should be 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. This run is a short to moderate distance (relative to your goal race distance), and makes up the bulk of your weekly mileage. Base runs are meant to be done frequently, and they are not necessarily overly challenging. Consider this your “daily” run that maintains your body’s ability to run effectively.
2. Long Run – Longer than your base run, a long run leaves you feeling moderately to severely fatigued. Long runs are meant to help increase your endurance, and you should increase distance over time. For example, your first long run may be 5 miles. Next week, try upping it to 5.5 or 6, and so on. Make sure you add a long run in at least once a week during your training. Allow some recovery time a few weeks before your race so your body isn’t too fatigued or injured to give maximum effort.
3. Recovery Run – This type of run usually follows a hard workout and is used to add mileage in a training program while recovering from a strenuous run. Run at an easy pace, about 50% of your base run effort. Keep it to a short distance. Ideally, this run fits best into the schedule after your long runs.
4. Intervals – This workout consists of repeated short segments of running at a fast pace divided by segments of slow jogging or standing recovery. This workout is meant to help build up your body’s ability to run faster for longer with an improved aerobic threshold. These workouts are typically performed on a track and are best to do after you can run your base mileage consistently. Example: Run one mile at base run pace, then walk for five minutes. Repeat until you have completed six miles.
5. Progression Run – Start this run at your natural pace and gradually run faster, ending with a quicker pace. Intended to be moderately challenging, progression runs are harder than base runs but easier than most interval runs. It’s a medium-effort workout, and the recovery time is less than intense workouts. Example: Run at a 10:00-minute pace for one mile, then increase to 9:30 pace for the second, 9:00 for the third, and so on. It’s important that the intervals match your goals and ability so don’t go too fast or too far and risk getting injured.