Easy runs- These are relatively short-distance runs, usually between two and eight miles. Theyíre run at a comfortable, relaxed pace in which you can carry on a conversation without feeling out of breath. When you finish a run like this, you should feel good. Feeling slightly tired is okay, but you shouldnít feel exhausted. If you do, your easy run isnít easy enough. Slow down!
Long runs- These are longer, sustained efforts at an even pace. They typically last over eight miles. Your pace on these should be a little slower than on an easy run. However, if you are used to long runs, they may be at the same pace and occasionally a bit faster than your easy runs.
Workouts- These consist of hard efforts sustained for usually a mile or less at a time with rest in between efforts. Youíll probably see these written as the number of repeats times the distance of each repeat in meters. Keep in mind that one mile equals 1600 meters. Typical workouts are 6x800, 4x1200, and 3x1600. Youíll find a local high school or college track helpful. One lap around a normal outside track is a quarter mile, or 400 meters.
The amount of rest to take should be about half of the time you took to run one repeat. For instance, if you ran an 800 in 3:30, you should walk or lightly jog for one and a half to two minutes before you begin another 800.
Strides- These are short sprints of about 100 meters. Run two to eight strides after an easy run or hard workout to improve your leg turnover, or the speed with which you can pick up your leg for another step.
Fartlek runs- These are runs in which you vary your speed according to various landmarks along your route. They can be any distance. Just pick lampposts, buildings, trees, or other landmarks along the way as starts and stops of hard effort. For instance, say youíll run easy until the lamppost. Then run hard from there to a certain building. Then run easy until you get to a certain tree. Fartleks are often fun, so play around with the routes and landmarks you choose.
Tempo runs- These are runs at a continuous medium-hard effort. For instance, if you can currently run a 5-K race at 7 minutes per mile pace, your 3-mile tempo run should be at 7:15-7:30 minutes per mile pace. The longer the races are that you run, the longer your tempo runs can be.
For a change, try a tempo with a bell curve effort. This means running the first and last portions of the course at a controlled pace but picking up your effort in the middle portion.
Knowing how far youíre running:
Knowing exactly how far youíre running is helpful because it allows you to learn what different paces feel like. You get feedback on how you are doing. Otherwise, you may feel good one day, run fast when you were supposed to be running easy that day, and then feel worn out during your workout or long run the next day.
A bike is the best way to measure a course, although a carís odometer can work too. Bikes can go where cars canít, so if your course isnít along the path of a road, the courseís distance may be impossible to determine with a car.
Another way to increase the number of measured courses you know is to run in a few local races. Try to remember the courses when youíre running in the races, or take home a course map if one is offered.