Stop Just “Going For a Run”

Did you know that there are 7 different types of runs you can do? I want you to start thinking of your body as having gears. And in order to become the best runner you can possibly be, you should fine-tune and play around with each gear.

You are a Ferrari, not a Camry.

Tempo Gear: A sustained effort at your lactate threshold level (Lactate threshold: exercise intensity at which the blood concentration of lactate and/or lactic acid begins to exponentially increase). This should be a pace that you could maintain for 30-60 minutes if you had to, but no more than that. These types of runs serve to increase the overall speed you can maintain for a prolonged period of time. I like to mix these into training schedules in order to increase the time a person can hold his or her race pace for. You can even do these types of runs for time instead of distance if you are just starting out. Beginners who run a 9 minute mile let’s say; you guys would hold around an 8:15/mile pace for 20 minutes for your tempo run.

Example of a Tempo Run: I usually run about a 7:45 pace for a half marathon. A 4 mile tempo run for me would be a consistent effort for 4 miles of hitting 7:25 for each mile. 

Fartlek Gear:  I love Fartlek runs. The term “Fartlek” is Swedish for “speed play.”  It’s important to note that Fartlek Runs are different than interval running, or speed work. A Fartlek run consists of a base run, mixed with variations in speed and terrain. So it’s not as structured and calculated as a track workout; but it more so serves to mix up the physiological aspects of running in order to improve your overall running economy. It’s important that your speeds vary in terms of distance and time

Example of a Fartlek Run: Run 3 miles at a natural pace with 10 x 2:00 pick ups with 1 minute recovery jogs mid-run. 

Hill Repeat Gear: This is like resistance training for runners. Hill repeats serve to strengthen your posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, and quads), help with fatigue resistance, and pain tolerance.

  • Shorter hill sprints (30 seconds or less): serve to improve the neuromuscular system, which is the communication system between your muscles and your brain. Shorter hill sprints also increase your maximal stroke volume in your heart, which makes the heart work more efficiently.
  • Longer Hill sprints (60 seconds or more): improve v02 max and overall muscular strength. Your v02 max is essentially your maximum lung capacity (how much oxygen your lungs can hold).

Short Hill Workout: 10 x 30 second sprints at a 9.0 speed/10.0 incline on a treadmill 

Longer Hill Workout: .25 x 6 Hill repeats, jog down hill in between. 

Aerobic Gear: A run that is completed at your natural pace; a pace you can EASILY maintain without pushing yourself or “trying.” These runs are not always fun, but are necessary to do in order to maintain your aerobic capacity, endurance and running economy. The waste products of aerobic running are carbon dioxide and water, which you breathe out. Runners don’t do these type of runs enough!

Example Aerobic Workout: 6 Mile easy run 

Anaerobic Gear: Running at a pace that is too fast to sustain. So this could be your sprint at the end of your race. Anaerobic running happens when there isn’t enough oxygen to create the energy your body is demanding. Your body doesn’t get ride of carbon dioxide and water during this type of running, instead it produces lactate. If you are doing your longer runs at an anaerobic level, you can butcher your training. However, anaerobic workouts do serve to improve your muscle capacity, v02 max and cardiovascular capacity. The mistake that a lot of runners make, is pushing themselves to this threshold with every run. If you do this, your body will never have time to recover and rebuild it’s muscles.

Example of an anaerobic workout: 16 200 meter repeats with a 45 second break in between 

Progression Gear: Start these runs at your natural pace, and increase your mile pace with each mile. These types of runs will really help you gauge your natural pace, race pace, and threshold pace. This type of run is meant to improve your physiological barriers when it comes to running and feeling your pace.

Example of a Progression workout: 2 miles at natural pace, 2 miles at half marathon pace, 2 miles at 10k pace, 1 mile a 5k pace. 

Interval/Speed Work Gear: Structured, repeated segments of speed work, mixed in with an even ratio of recovery. Think track workouts. This is going to compress the amount of speed work you do, into a short amount of time. These types of workouts are meant to improve your efficiency and fatigue resistance. The difference between intervals and Fartleks is that intervals are set distances, like 400 meter repeats with an equivalent, or appropriate, rest time in between each set. Fartleks are unpredictable, constantly varied, and widely vary in terms of speed and distances.

Example of an Interval Workout: 8 x400 meter repeats with a 60 second break in between each 400.