Running 101: The 8 Basic Types of Runs

Once again, I am featuring this article which I copied from and posted it in my blog to make it a permanent reference to my readers.

If you want to run your best, you’ve got to do a variety of workouts. Here’s how. 

There are eight basic types of runs that are practiced by runners of all levels everywhere. These formats evolved through a global trial-and-error process over many decades. They survived because they work. If you want to get the most out of the time you devote to training, you will need to learn and practice them too. You can add all kinds of wrinkles to these formats (for example by combining two of them within a single session), but even in their most basic form these workouts will take you far. 

Recovery Run 

A recovery run is a relatively short run performed at a steady, slow pace. Recovery runs serve to add a little mileage to a runner’s training without taking away from performance in the harder, more important workouts that precede and follow them. Recovery runs are best done as the next run after a hard workout such as an interval run. Do your recovery runs as slowly as necessary to feel relatively comfortable despite lingering fatigue from your previous run. 

Example: 4 miles easy 

Base Run 

A base run is a relatively short to moderate-length run undertaken at a runner’s natural pace. While individual base runs are not meant to be challenging, they are meant to be done frequently, and in the aggregate they stimulate big improvements in aerobic capacity, endurance, and running economy. 

Example: 6 miles at natural pace 

Long Run 

Generally, a long run is simply a base run that lasts long enough to leave a runner moderately to severely fatigued.  The function of a long run is to increase raw endurance. The distance or duration required to achieve this effect depends, of course, on your current level of endurance. As a general rule, your longest run should be long enough to give you confidence that raw endurance will not limit you in races. 

Example: 15 miles at natural pace 

Progression Run 

A progression run is a run that begins at a runner’s natural pace and ends with a faster segment at anywhere from marathon to 10K pace.  These runs are generally intended to be moderately challenging—harder than base runs but easier than most threshold and interval runs. 

Example: 5 miles at natural pace + 1 mile at half-marathon pace 

Fartlek Run 

A fartlek run is a base run sprinkled with short, fast intervals. You can think of a fartlek run as a gentle interval session.  It’s a good way to begin the process of developing efficiency and fatigue resistance at faster speeds in the early phases of the training cycle, or to get a moderate dose of fast running later in the training cycle in addition to the larger doses provided by tempo/threshold and interval workouts. 

Example: 6 miles at natural pace with 6 x 30 seconds at 5K race pace scattered throughout 

Hill Repetitions 

Hill repetitions are repeated short segments of hard uphill running. They increase aerobic power, high-intensity fatigue resistance, pain tolerance, and run-specific strength. The ideal hill on which to run hill repetitions features a steady, moderate gradient (4-6 percent). Hill repetitions are typically done at the end of the base-building period as a relatively safe way to introduce harder high-intensity training into the program. 

Example: 2 miles of easy jogging (warm-up) + 10 x 1 minute uphill at roughly 1500m race effort with 2.5-minute jogging recoveries + 2 miles easy jogging (cool-down) 

Tempo Run 

A tempo run is a workout that features one or two sustained efforts somewhere in the range of lactate threshold intensity, which is the fastest pace that can be sustained for one hour in highly fit runners and the fastest pace that can be sustained for 20 minutes in less fit runners.  Tempo/threshold runs serve to increase the speed you can sustain for a prolonged period of time and to increase the time you can sustain a relatively fast pace. 

Example: 1 mile of easy jogging (warm-up) + 4 miles at lactate threshold pace + 1 mile of easy jogging (cool-down) 

There is a special type of tempo run that is known as a marathon-pace run. A prolonged run at marathon pace is a good workout to perform at a very challenging level in the final weeks of preparation for a marathon, after you’ve established adequate raw endurance with long runs and longer progression runs featuring smaller amounts of marathon-pace running. 

Example: 2 miles at natural pace + 13.1 miles at marathon pace 


Interval workouts consist of repeated shorter segments of fast running separated by slow jogging “recoveries”. This format enables a runner to pack more fast running into a single workout than he or she could with a single prolonged fast effort to exhaustion. 

Interval workouts are typically subcategorized as short intervals and long intervals. Long intervals are 600-1200m segments run in the range of 5K race pace with easy jogging recoveries between them.  They’re an excellent means of progressively developing efficiency and fatigue resistance at fast running speeds. 

Example: 1 mile of easy jogging (warm-up) + 5 x 1 km at 5K race pace with 400m jogging recoveries + 1 mile of easy jogging (cool-down) 

Short intervals are 100-400m segments run at roughly 1,500m race pace or faster. They boost speed, running economy, fatigue resistance at fast speeds and pain tolerance. Distance runners typically use shorter, faster intervals earlier in the training cycle to increase their pure speed and then move to slightly longer, slower (but still very fast) speed intervals to add fatigue resistance to their speed. 

Example: 1 mile of easy jogging (warm-up) + 10 x 300m at 800m race pace with 400m jogging recoveries + 1 mile of easy jogging (cool-down)


Coke, Salt, Ice Water, Etc.

How I wish I could be a part among the “volunteers” in The Bull Runner’s Dream Marathon this coming weekend. Due to my scheduled meeting with people outside Metro Manila which is connected with my recon activities for my next “adventure run” and incoming PAU road races, I could not be a part of the said event. However, I am coming up with the following suggestions and tips for the runners who will be experiencing their first Full Marathon:

1. Ice Cold Coke—It does not matter if it is Coca-Cola, Pepsi, RC Cola, or Sarsi, you need to drink at least one can, one bottle up to one liter of Coke if you feel exhausted or before you think you are at the verge of hitting your “wall”. You will be surprised that this sweet ice cold drink will give you the much needed “kick” on your last few kilometers. In all my road races that I’ve organized, there is always a Coke in every Aid Station, to include the usual water and Gatorade drinks!

2. Salt—It could be the ordinary table salt, rock salt or iodized salt or if there are available commercial salt tablets, you have to bring some in your packet or in one of the zippered pockets of your hydration belt. If you are going to finish the full marathon in 4 hours or more, you have to take some salt or salt tablets to maintain the sodium level of your blood. For the ultrarunners, they mix salt and ice cold coke for their hydration intake in the last 10-20K of their ultra races.

3. Ice Water with Sponge—If the heat of the sun is too much to bear on your skin or body, you need a sponge soaked in an ice-cooled water to use in rubbing the parts of your body being exposed to sunlight. You can also douse some of the absorbed ice water on the sponge to your head. Ice cold water poured on your head  and back gives refreshing sensation to your body.

4. Immodium—Don’t forget to take immodium capsule or diatab tablets at least one hour before the start of the race. This will give you the confidence to run without any GI issues even if you eat some foods or drink a lot of water/drinks during the race. However, it is advised that you should have your pre-race “bowel movement” before taking this medication.

5. Massage—Be sure to have your last body massage at least two days before the race/event. Don’t have your massage a day before the race as your body muscles will not have enough time to rest & recover before the race.

6. Alaxan FR, Pain-Killer Medications, & others—I know of some “hardcore and competitive” runners who take Alaxan FR with Immodium before the start of the Full Marathon for obvious reasons. The Alaxan FR will anticipate the “arrival” of pain to your leg muscles and joints during the race. Other runners would say that Viagra make them stronger, faster, and can extend their endurance limit in long distance running events but there is a need for advise from your physician. My elite athletes will always remind me to take Pharmaton tablets at least 3 days before the marathon run.

7. Candies—Most of the ultra runners crave for candies during the second-half of the race as they are sweet. It is worth trying with a candy in your mouth while you are running. Be careful not to experience being “choked” when you swallow your saliva with the sweet extracted from the candy while you are breathing with your mouth! In my road races which I organize, runners are always served with Cloud 9 bite size chocolate candies in every Aid Station.

8. Kinesio Tapes—I have a lot of Kinesio Gold Tapes (Black in Color) For Sale and I only used them once when I had an injury on my lower left leg and it gave me some comfort in my recovery runs. When I participated in the Jeju International Ultramarathon Race last March, I’ve seen a lot of the Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and US runners using this kind of tape on their legs. Michelle Estuar, the Lady Champion in the 1st PAU 50K Race, was sporting a lot of Kinesio tapes during the race. The way I looked at her during the run, she looked like a running “Robocop”!

Good luck to the TBR Dream Marathon Runners!

Yasso 800s

I found out about “Yasso 800s” when I started buying back issues of Runners World Magazine for the months of April, June & July of this year. I bought these back issues last month when I started running seriously again. I thought Yasso 800s is some kind of an equipment that improves the performance of a runner or an equipment that measures the strength and endurance of a runner.

My research in the Internet brought me to the article of Amby Burfoot in the September 2001 issue of the Runners World Magazine where he started to use the term “Yasso 800s” based from the training experiences of Mr Bart Yasso in his preparation for a Marathon race. According to Mr Yasso, he runs sets of 800-meter runs and the average time in these runs could predict accurately his time to finish a marathon race. If he averages 2:45 minutes in his 800-meter runs, he predicts that he could finish the marathon in 2 hours & 45 minutes. Simply put, the minutes & seconds a runner could finish sets of 800-meter runs is translated to hours & minutes as predicted time to finish the marathon.

Early this morning, I ordered some of my men to measure a distance of 800 meters, with a measuring tape used by my engineers,  along the 2-mile route I am using in my camp in Jamindan. The first 400 meters is slightly uphill and the rest is relatively plain.

I tried my first Yasso 800s at noon today when the rains stopped. After a short stretching exercises, I did my first set at 3:49 mins and slowly jogged 400 meters. My second run was 3:45 mins. My third run was 3:46 mins. My fourth & last run was 3:52 mins. I between these runs (2nd to 4th) I jogged 500-700 meters as my recovery runs. Before I ended my brief and testing for my first Yasso 800s, I slowly jogged 1 km to cool down. I ended the workout with the stretching of my legs. I ran a total of 6-7 kilometers for the whole Yasso 800s workout.

I am happy with the results of my brief Yasso 800s runs. If Mr Yasso is right in his predictions/theory, I am predicting that I am regaining my power, strength, and endurance when I was a serious runner 25 years ago. This is a positive result after three weeks of serious training for a marathon.

Thanks, Mr Yasso, you will be my regular training partner every week!!!

“Shuffle, Don’t Bounce”

When I joined the 1st City of Angels Half-Marathon Race in Los Angeles last December 4, 2006 with my daughter, I observed that she was “bouncing” during the run. “Bouncing” means that you are pushing much of your legs after your foot hits the ground. In effect, the whole body is bouncing as you run, creating extra effort to your legs, knees and body. Sometimes, bouncing creates a semblance of being suspended on the air for a half of a second before your leading foot strikes the ground. Well, I didn’t mind her style of running while we were on the race but I encouraged her to increase her speed and maintain her cadence and breathing rythym on the last 3-4 miles before the finish line.

Immediately after the race, she was happy that she was able to improve her PR best time for the distance by 12 minutes. I congratulated her for the determination she had shown despite for the reason that she just had her “monthly visitor” (which she told me only after the race!). Anyway, while we were walking back to home (our house is 2-3 miles away from LA City Hall), I told her about her tendency to “bounce” during running.

Of course, she told me that she is not “bouncing” when she runs. I described and demonstrated how she was “bouncing” while running. I also demonstrated to her how to “shuffle” while running. I suggested and recommended to her to adopt the “shuffle” style of running.

Basically, I am a “shuffler”. Shuffling means that a runner does not need to raise his/her knees too much in the air and the foot should not be ahead of the knees while running. It is an exaggerated trotting of the feet with the ball of the feet or heel hitting much of the ground. This is the most relaxing way to run with the knees not being forced to exert extra effort. It takes time to practice and adopt this kind of running. But for me, this is the best running style I recommend for runners training for their first marathon.

My running models in marathon in the ’80s; Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, Robert de Castella, Toshihiko Seko,  Steve Jones, and Waldemar Cierpinski; were all “shufflers”.

My God, I am really that old and bald if you don’t know these famous marathoners in the past!!!

High Altitude Training

I accidentally deleted my previous posting on this topic. I posted this topic while I was in Boracay Island for two days.

Altitude Training or High Altitude Training dates back after the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968 where the city is located 2, 240 meters above sea level. It was at this time when world records on sprints and endurance sports were broken and some of the time records then were not yet surpassed up to this time. Most of the athletes from the high altitude places of Africa, Finland, and New Zealand had excelled in endurance sports events.

Scientific studies showed that when the body is exposed to altitude training, there is less oxygen in the air and due to less oxygen intake, the body tends to develop new red blood cells. New red blood cells means more oxygen in the blood which is translated to more speed, power and endurance.

This is the very reason why it was a part of my planning, practice and strategy to have my practice runs in Baguio City for a minimum of one month up to a maximum of two months. Although Baguio City (1, 530 meters above sea level) is not as high as Mexico City, it was the most accessible place where I can have my altitude training.

I may not be as competetive as the national athletes at that time who were training in Baguio City, but I knew that altitude training gave me more endurance to finish the marathon race without any pains and had faster post recovery than the other runners. In all my marathon practices, I saw to it that Baguio practice runs were part of my training/s.

Simulated altitude training gadgets are already available in the market by elite athletes in other more developed countries but they are expensive. However, I don’t recommend such gadgets/tents to average runners. Actual practice runs in higher elevated places is highly recommended as it is more affordable and economical.

Baguio City is still my best bet to practice altitude running/training. The route from Silang, Cavite to Tagaytay and running within Tagaytay area is also an option. Another option which I tried before is the route from the UP Los Banos Grounds to Mt Makiling peak.

The “Basics of Running” by Dr George Sheehan

Important Running Tips For Every Runner to Know by Dr George Sheehan

           This column is for the benefit of those taking up jogging with the coming of favorable weather. Here are a few practical pointers to keep in mind:

           1) Keep a record of your morning pulse. Lie in bed for a few minutes after you awaken and then take your pulse. As your training progresses, it will gradually become slower and after three months or so plateau out. From then on, if you awaken and find a rate of 10 or more beats higher, you have not recovered from your previous day’s runs, races or stresses. Take the day or more off until the pulse returns to normal.
           2) Weigh yourself regularly. Initially you will not lose much weight. What you lose in fat you will put on in muscle. Running consumes 100 calories a mile and there are 3,500 calories to a pound so you can see weight loss will be slow unless you do heavy mileage.
           3) Do your exercises daily. The more you run, the more muscle imbalance occurs. The calf, hamstrings (back thigh) and low back muscles become short, tight and inflexible. They have to be stretched. On the other hand the shins, the quads (front thigh) and the belly muscles become relatively weak. They must be strengthened. Learn the Magic Six: Three strengthening exercises, three stretching exercises.
           4) Eat to run. Eat a good high-protein breakfast, then have a light lunch. Run on an empty stomach at least two, preferably three hours after your last meal. Save the carbohydrates for the meal after the run to replenish the muscle sugar.
           5) Drink plenty of fluids. Take sugar-free drinks up to 15 minutes before running. Then take 12 to 16 ounces of easily tolerated juices, tea with honey or sugar, defizzed Coke, etc. before setting out. In winter that should be all you need.
           6) Run on an empty colon. Running causes increased peristalsis, cramps and even diarrhea. Having a bowel movement before running and particularly before racing prevents these abdominal symptoms.
           7) Wear the right clothes. In winter this means a base of thermal underwear followed by several layers of cotton or wool shirts with at least one being a turtleneck. Wear a ski mask and mittens. Use nylon if necessary to protect against wind and wet. In summer the main enemy is radiant heat. Remember to wear white clothes and use some kind of head covering.
           8) Find your shoes and stick to them. High-arch feet do better with narrow heels. Morton’s Foot (short big toe, long second toe) may need an arch support in the shoe. If a shoe works, train in it, and wear it to work.
           9) The fitness equation is 30 minutes at a comfortable pace four times a week. Your body should be able to tell you that “comfortable” pace. If in doubt use the “talk test”. Run at a speed at which you can carry on a conversation with a companion.
           10) Run economically. Do not bounce or overstride. You should lengthen your stride by pushing off, not by reaching out. Do not let your foot get ahead of your knee. This means your knee will be slightly bent at footstrike. Run from the hips down with the upper body straight up and used only for balance. Relax.
           11) Belly breathe. This is not easy and must be practiced and consciously done just prior to a run or a race. Take air into your belly and exhale against a slight resistance either through pursed lips or by a grunt or a groan. This uses the diaphragm correctly and prevents the “stitch.”
           12) Wait for your second wind. It takes six to 10 minutes and one degree in body temperature to shunt the blood to the working muscles. When that happens you will experience a light warm sweat and know what the “second wind” means. You must run quite slowly until this occurs. Then you can dial yourself to “comfortable,” put yourself on automatic pilot, and enjoy.
           13) Run against traffic. Two heads are better than one in preventing an accident. Turn your back on a driver and you are giving up control of your life. At night wear some reflective material or carry a small flashlight.
           14) Give dogs their territory. Cross to the other side of the road and pick up some object you can brandish at them. Never try to outrun a dog. Face the dog and keep talking until it appears to be safe to go on.
           15) Learn to read your body. Be aware of signs of overtraining. If the second wind brings a cold clammy sweat, head for home. Establish a DEW line that alerts you to impending trouble. Loss of zest, high morning pulse, lightheadedness on standing, scratchy throat, swollen glands, insomnia, palpitation, are some of the frequent harbingers of trouble.
           16) Do not run with a cold. A cold means you are overtrained. You have already run too much. Wait at least three days, preferably longer. Take a nap the hour you would usually spend running.
           17) Do not cheat on your sleep. Add an extra hour when in heavy training. Also arrange for at least one or two naps a week and take a long one after your weekend run.
           18) When injured find a substitute activity to maintain fitness. Swim, cycle or walk for the same time you would normally jog.
           19) Most injuries result from a change in your training. A change in shoes, an increase in mileage (25 miles per week is the dividing line; at 50 miles per week the injury rate is doubled), hill or speed work, or a change in surface. Almost always there is some associated weakness of the foot, muscle strength/flexibility imbalance, or one leg shorter than the other. Use of heel lifts, arch supports, modification of shoes and corrective exercises may be necessary before you are able to return to pain-free running.
           20) Training is a practical application of Hans Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome. Stress is applied, the organism reacts, a suitable time is given to reestablish equilibrium. Then stress is applied again. Each of us can stand different loads and need different amounts of time to adapt. You are an experiment of one. Establish your own schedule, do not follow anyone else’s.