Not All Running Is the Same

Have you ever heard of “hitting a plateau” when it comes to training and exercise?  Well that’s because people often find something that they like and feels comfortable and end up sticking with it.  While this is a good thing, doing the same workout or class over and over won’t lead to any new results. Your body adapts to stresses imposed upon it and learns how to react to those stresses effectively.  After a while, the same workout is not as taxing on your body because you have adapted to it.  Thus, you have to constantly challenge your body in order to progress and make new gains!

So what do you do?  There are several different styles of running that can be implemented in one’s training. These styles not only keep your workouts interesting, but they also target aerobic and anaerobic systems in different ways.  I will touch briefly on the few that I use most often in my training programs. Understanding what it means to run “easy” or “at tempo pace” is important so that the body is getting the right kind of training stress it needs in order to adapt and progress safely.

Five Types of Running

Easy Pace:

  • Also known as “conversational” pace.  This should feel slow!  When running at an easy pace, you should be able to easily hold a with someone.  If you find yourself taking gasps between sentences, or unable to maintain same pace without slowing down, then you’re going too fast. If wearing a HR monitor, aim for around 70% of your max HR.
  • Easy pace runs are important because they allow the body to adapt to increasing mileage without causing too much stress on the body
  • Also described as an “active recovery” when used as a recovery between bouts of hard work, or after a particularly challenging workout the day before.

Tempo (Moderate) Pace:

  • A pace you can run at while still talking with someone, but this time you can only get out a few words or a sentence at a time.  It should feel somewhere between easy and all-out hard work.  Specific pace can vary widely,
  • Aim for around 30s slower than your 5k pace
  • Important for building speed, strength, aerobic threshold, and allows workout variety.

Hard Pace

  • Reserved for intense workouts, such as hill or track repeats.  At this pace, you should not be able to talk.
  • Length of time running at hard pace is often short, designed to target the anaerobic system, and followed by an active recovery period.
  • Targets the body’s anaerobic system
  • Only one or two hard workouts/runs should be completed per week.

Fartlek

  • Sweedish term for “speed play”
  • Alternate between bouts of hard, tempo, and easy pacing; get creative and have fun!
  • Example:
    • For a 30 min run: warmup easy for 5 mins; alternate between 3 mins of Moderate pace/ 2mins easy pace, repeat 5 x; end with a 5 min easy cool down
    • Hard pace between every 2 mailboxes, followed by easy pace for every 1 mail box
    • Endless possibilities
  • Fartleks are especially fun as you can modify it to how you feel that day and make it easier/harder as needed.  They can be done just about anywhere, and adding in a hilly course makes them even more challenging!

Mile Repeats

  • Series of 1-mile distance repeated a certain number of times
  • Completed at race pace or 5-10s slower
  • Effective workouts regardless of your training and racing goals.
  • Long enough to build race-specific strength and endurance, while challenging enough to help improve your mental game
  • When training for longer events (marathon or half marathon), mile repeats can break up the monotony of long runs and add some variety to your weekly sessions.

I use a little bit of each of these styles in my training programs.  If interested on learning about how I can help coach you towards your running goals, email me for more information!

Author: VaCarter

physical therapist, coach, runner, and coffee lover!

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