The 3 Basic Runs Every Runner Needs

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3 Types of Runs You need in your Training Plan

If your goal is to train for a race or become a stronger and faster runner, then you’ll need to be strategic with your running and include different types of runs in your training plan.

Many beginner runners think that the only way to become a better runner is to run 3 miles every day until they start seeing improvement. That might be okay if your only goal is to get in shape but it won’t necessarily make you faster.

1. Speed Runs

If you’re trying to become a faster runner, then you have to practice running fast! This doesn’t necessarily mean going all out on your next run until you puke either.

There are plenty of ways to incorporate speed runs into your training plan. Some of these include:

Hill Sprints

Running hills is exactly what it sounds like. Pick a spot where you can sprint up the hill for about 10-15 seconds as fast as you can.

Try to do 4-8 repetitions and eventually work your way up to 20. Be sure to take your time coming back down the hill so that you can recover correctly and give it everything you’ve got up the hill every time.


Sprints are perfect if you have access to a track. You can practice running as hard as you can at 100m, 200m, 400m, etc. Even if you don’t have a track nearby, you can pick a distance to run and use any watch or timer to keep track of your times.

Again, the goal is to run hard every time. So make sure you’re taking a break between each run and keeping plenty of water nearby.

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What? Yes, Fartlek.

Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish. It’s similar to interval training but instead of resting in between your sprints or hard runs, you’re just running at a slower pace. This means that you are running without breaks for the entire run.

It sounds a lot worse than it actually is. For example, maybe you decide to go on a 20-minute fartlek run. You could design your run so that you run harder/faster for 1 minute and run at a slower pace for 2 minutes. That means in that 20-minute run, you only ran hard for about 7 minutes. That’s not so bad, right?

Tempo Runs

A tempo run helps your body build up its endurance to help you run a 5K or marathon at your best effort. Essentially, you run at a pace that you can keep for at least 20 minutes.

It should be fast but not too fast like your sprints or intervals. You should not be able to hold a conversation but you shouldn’t be gasping for air either. If we could measure your level of effort from a scale of 1- 10 with 10 being an all-out sprint, you should be around a 7.

Related: How to Start Running: Create a Training Plan

2. Long Runs

Long runs are important because they help get you stronger and build up your endurance. Not only do they help you become a stronger runner physically, but they also help you mentally.

That’s because these runs are the longest runs of your weekly training and they are typically run at a slower pace. You can now focus on your form, breathing, etc.

While the ideal distance for your long runs varies depending on a number of factors, it’s recommended that they are 1.5-2 times the length of your normal run. So if you normally run 3 miles a day, your long run would be anywhere between 4.5  – 6 miles.

It’s important not to run too fast as the main goal is to get in the mileage. However, don’t run it too slow either. It’s not meant to be a walk in the park or at the same pace as your warmup jog.

black woman in purple shirt running

3. Recovery Runs

Last but not least, we have the recovery run. Recovery runs are short, “easy” runs that you do after a hard run such as a speed run or long run.

These runs are important because they help flush out lactic acid improve your strength, and help prevent fatigue.

They’re considered easy because they should not be done at a fast pace. The best way to determine if you’re running the right pace for these runs is to do the “talk test”.

If you can run while holding a conversation without breathing hard, then you are at the right pace! And remember, recovery runs are intended to be short. Try to keep these runs at around 20-40 minutes.

Test out these runs and try to add them in your training plan. Who knows, you might become stronger and faster than ever before.

Final Thoughts on the 3 Key Types of Runs

There are many different types of runs that you can include when you’re training for your next race or reach your goals. However, these 3 basic runs are important because they work on improving your running from every different angle.

Even if you don’t like sprints, giving it all you’ve got for the last 200 meters of your race could be the difference between setting a personal record or not. If you’re only used to running a mile, having the long run will prepare your body to endure a 5K race.

There is a purpose for every type of run!

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3 Types of Runs Every Runner Needs

4 thoughts on “The 3 Basic Runs Every Runner Needs”

  1. Love your tips!
    Just so you know, Fartlek has now been added to my daily vernacular. How will I be able to squeeze it into normal conversation?… idk, but I’m always down for the challenge.

  2. Great advice!
    It’s been a long time since I started running but I and a lot of people I know started exactly like you said, the same distance day after day. In addition to making you a better runner, changing things up make running a lot more interesting too!

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