Types of Running

Photo by  Melody Jacob  on  Unsplash

The Lent 2017 challenge is over, but that doesn’t mean your running journey has to stop!

In fact, this is the perfect time to learn more about running, so that you can set a different goal the next time the challenge comes around. Even if you still consider yourself a beginner, learning more about this sport could give you the motivation you need to get better instead of staying complacent. Because the purpose of running, at least for us, is improving our spiritual life, right?! And you can’t improve your spiritual life if you never have anything to strive for.

I figured it was a good time to write a post about the different types of running. Yes, there’s more than just getting out there and moving your legs. That fact surprised me, too. But there are actually different ways of running depending on the goal you’re trying to reach. And very quickly after I learned these different types of running, I reached a personal record in a half marathon!

So if you’re looking to get better, or even if you’re not, here’s a post about the different types of running and what they’re for!

Conversation Pace Running

This type of running is done at an easy, gentle pace where you can talk. This running trains your body to breathe, deal with the stress of long running, and teaches you to become more patient and handle physical discomfort.

This type of running can be further divided into short distance, medium distance, and long distance.

A short conversation pace run is anything under 45 minutes. It’s meant to be a comfortable daily distance for busy people with busy lives, and can be easy miles between hard sessions or just to help you run more miles.

Medium conversation pace runs are between 45-90 minutes. It builds running strength without placing too much stress on the body, and increases a runner’s ability to race (mentally AND physically).

Long runs are any runs above 90 minutes. This teaches the body to manage energy based on glycogen, and increases a runner’s ability to handle oxygen and emotionally and psychologically handle discomfort.


Strides are short bursts of swift running for 80-150 meters. Typically a runner starts at a conversation pace, increases speed for a few meters, and then slowly decreases the pace again for the last few steps.

This type of running helps you work on efficient running form. You could do it in a pre-workout warmup or a post-workout cooldown.


Tempo runs are done at a quick, sustained pace, generally for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes as long as an hour or more. Tempo runs really help you learn how to breathe more efficiently, and they improve endurance.

There are three types of tempo runs: threshold, half-marathon or marathon pace, and progression. Threshold runs are a bit faster than your long runs. Half-marathon or marathon pace runs are at the goal pace you want to complete your race. Progression runs start at a comfortable pace and get increasingly faster in order to simulate race day.

New runners may find tempo runs difficult, but it’s the bread and butter for experienced and competitive runners!


These runs are fast bouts of running followed by a bout of rest. The goal is to practice fast running without specific speed and rest intervals. Fartleks are good for all types of runners, and is a great intro to effort sessions for beginners.


Hills are brisk running uphill with rest breaks in the flat or downhill portions. This type of running is really good at increasing your strength and improving your form. There’s also a less of a chance of injury if you incorporate runs because there’s less strain on ligaments and tendons.

Beginners may find hills scary, but they’re important for all runners. Try to incorporate hill workouts or hill repetitions during any training season. You could keep the same distance and speed the whole time, or change up the distance and speed in the same workout. You can get creative and use stadium ramps or parking garages, or you can use the stairstepper at your gym. Hills can be fun!


Intervals are specific amounts of running bouts at a specific distance at a specific pace with a specific recovery. It’s very specific.  Intervals are considered to be in the anaerobic zone because they’re at an uncomfortable pace that gets harder and harder to handle over long distances.

People who run more than 20 miles a week are the people who should start incorporating intervals into their routine. It’s important to build a strength phase of tempo, hill, and fartlek runs before moving into intervals. There’s less chance of injury that way.

Did you know there were so many different types of running? Which one is your favorite?

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-Johnna D.