Types of training run

So you're going to start running for the first time in a while, or you're going to get more serious and add some structure, but where do you start? How far do you run? How often? How fast? On what surface? And what about gradient? I'm going to walk you through the types of run that you'll want to rotate through and talk about how to approach each type, how often you should be doing it, and how to get the most from your training.

The long-run

This could be anything from a few miles, to several hours. It's the run most people associate with longer distance training, such as for a marathon or an ultra, but actually has a place in all programmes. A lot of coaches and programmes refer to this in terms of heart rate as a zone 2 run, and the goal is normally distance-based, or occasionally time-based, and may have a secondary target to do with pace or time. I advocate only 1-2 of these in a 2-week window, and only when you need longer runs; such as to build a base for a specific race. This is less than most coaches advise, but my logic is simple; these are the most time-consuming part of any programme but offer the least physiological benefits. Furthermore, many of the benefits they offer can be gained, at least in part, through other types of session, the recovery window is longer, and the risk of injury increases. The longer the event you're training for, the longer these sessions will need to be, but less frequent. As a general rule, for anyone taking on anything up to 10km I get them to run that distance, or sometimes further, in training, whereas for longer distances they train to a lesser distance. I do make exceptions for half marathons if I feel the runner will benefit from the confidence a 13-mile training run will give them.

The tempo run