When designing your training plan, you might use several different types of runs at various points in your training cycle.  You’ll need an understanding of what each type of run will give you in order to decide if you’ll want to incorporate it into your plan.  Today, though, we are only going to talk about types of training runs.  We’ll get into training plans in a few more weeks.

Of the many types of training runs that are out there, I use the following the most for my own training and when designing training plans for clients:


Easy Conversation Pace Run – Running at a pace where you can easily hold a conversation with a friend during your run.  These runs are great for after a tough run, or for adding on additional mileage you might need during the week of your shorter run during marathon training.

Long Runs – Runs usually of ten miles or greater where the goal is to build up cardiovascular endurance, and prepare your legs for carrying you for several hours.

Track Intervals – Running multiple shorter and faster repeats on a track with slow recovery runs between repeats.  Intervals are usually 400 to 1600 meters long with a 400 meter recovery.  Track repeats are great for building speed.

Tempo Runs – A tempo run is made up of an easy and comfortable warm-up, a middle tempo portion that’s run at a sustained faster pace, and an easy slow cool-down.  The warm-up, tempo miles, and cool-down distances vary depending on what distance race you’re training for. 

Fartleks – The word fartlek is a Swedish word meaning speed play, and it’s a great way to get faster without an organized plan.  The concept is very simple – pick up your pace for any given time until you need to recover, slow down to recover, and then repeat.  Running fartleks is a very informal form of interval training, with no strict rules, no set distances, and no time goals. 

Hill Repeats – Running uphill at a challenging and sustained pace, turning at the top, and running comfortably back down.  The downhill portion is a great opportunity to practice gliding (relaxing your running muscles and allowing gravity to do the work for you).  Repeat.  Shorter hills build speed, while longer hills build strength.


Race Pace Run – Running consistently at the pace in which you plan to run your race.  You could add race pace into the middle of your long run for a few miles, or you could sign up for a shorter distance race than your targeted race and run it at race pace.  Running at race pace helps build confidence for the big day.

Reverse Splits – Running the second half of the training run or race faster than the first half.

Progression Run – Gradually increasing your speed over the course of your run.  Each mile is faster than the previous.


Like with anything else, I have my favorites.  I prefer hills for strength, tempos for speed, and long for endurance, but that’s just me.  And of course I love my easy conversation pace runs with my friends when I feel I need to pull it back a notch and let my body take it easy.  Try them all and see what works best for you!


  • Questions:
  • Which of the above types of runs do you incorporate into your training?
  • Which types of runs do you enjoy most?
  • Which types of runs do you dread the most?