Some days your energy level shoots through the roof and you’re ready for a long distance run that will refresh you inside and out. Other days, when you’re feeling tired and lethargic, you may be dragging your feet to head out the door simply to cover a couple of miles so that your training is on point.
We know the deal – not all runs will be great! But as the saying goes, even a bad run is a good run (or better than no run at all)!
Did you know that there are different types of runs you can choose from – and a few that you may already have completed and didn’t even know you conquered? Most varieties of runs aren’t just the same mile-counting, boring routines. As runners, we have the advantage of using our beloved sport as an outlet and a source of motivation when life gets rough. Running is also a healthy activity that takes discipline and dedication – something we all learn, regardless of what type of run we take on.
Different runs serve different purposes. Some runs help us accomplish our fitness goals and others simply make us feel better, depending on what our bodies/minds need when we’re warming up for that trek.
Need to burn off your anger? There’s a run for that!
Need to test yourself on how fast you can run one mile? There’s a run for that challenge!
Need to practice a non-stop half marathon? Well – there’s a run for that too!
Need to recover from a marathon and keep your muscles fluid. There’s certainly a run for that!
If you haven’t decided on what kind of run you’re going to take on today, it can be fun to try a variety of different treks where you can be completely focused – or throw caution to the wind! You might even make up your own type of run and divide your time on the pavement between therapeutic, training and pure enjoyment. Here are just a few types of runs you may find yourself pursuing during your athletic journeys.
The “Intense Training” Run
For serious runners who compete in races on a regular basis, intense training runs may be the main option for you. With focus, pace/speed and intervals being critical components to beating your personal finishing time, the intensity of training isn’t just about running itself.
Intense training for many is changing their diet, putting in dedicated hours of strength training and running several times a week – keeping the distances long and building your stamina. Intense training does require rest days so that the body can prepare for competition as opposed to training that isn’t as intense. More serious and focused runs mean you’re recording your heart rate, elevation and you’re pushing yourself to get those miles in or even build up/increase your mileage and stamina over time.
Most intense training runs often mean you’re aiming to meet or exceed your pace expectations – even taking on more challenging courses to prep and condition your muscles for all different terrain. An intense training run may also require more warm-up exercises/stretches and packing portable nutrients to take with you.
This may not seem like such a “fun” version of running, but when you have a marathon coming up, the intensity of your training will pay off and you’ll avoid energy burnout, losing your endurance or hitting the wall halfway into the competition.
The “Zone Out” Zen Run
We all have moments where we want to get away from the world – or simply get away from reality and our responsibilities. Runners have the advantage of physically escaping their “reality” for a bit and letting the path ahead serve as a type of therapy at the beginning or end of our day.
Therapy runs don’t have to be timed or paced. While you’re contemplating your problems or clearing your mind, you may want to stop every mile or so. In a way, these types of runs are particularly special and sentimental to a runner because the sport begins to serve an emotional purpose.
One day you can be on an intense training run and the next day you may feel like you need a therapy run, allowing yourself to use running as a mental coping tool that could change the way you think about the world around you.
After a particularly hard day – or if you know you have a rough day ahead of you – a “zone out” run could provide the perfect moment of serenity. Therapy runs can prove to be a big help if you take a different running path than usual, somewhere quiet and away from crowds. The best part of zoning out on your therapy runs is not paying attention to your timing.
Go on, leave that watch at home and just take to the streets!
If your therapy run takes place along a lake, beach, ocean or another body of water, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a break in between miles, soak in your environment and take advantage of its healing potential. As you’re running, more open environments allow you to think and be alone without any distractions or influences. Your moment of zen is just a run away!
The “Can I Take On New Terrain?” Run
Maybe you’ve always thought about taking on a certain hill, trail or path – maybe you’ve never ran in the midst of city streets and that’s one feat you’d love to conquer! Maybe there were time restraints or other limitations that prevented you from running along a certain, more challenging trail. “Can I do this?” you may wonder before considering the run.
Some runners have a list of locations or destinations where they want to log in miles just to answer that question – “Can I handle or take on that particular territory?” This type of run can definitely be fun, as planning out new places to gauge one’s endurance can be like discovering gold! Testing our skills and strength along a path that’s never been trekked before can feel like a mental challenge as well. When we’re constantly running along the same trail, we know when we’ve reached a mile and we know how the road ahead will accommodate our pace. Taking on new lands may require a bit more planning, depending on how many miles you want to complete and whether your stamina and muscles can match the “unknown.”
As a leisure runner, with my routine running path under control and my timing/pace typically the same, I’ve often ventured to new grounds miles away from familiar territory to see if I could accomplish the same goals somewhere else – somewhere more exciting with different scenic backgrounds.
While I loved the scenery and change of energy that came with covering new stomping grounds, taking on the undiscovered terrain threw off what I call the “runner’s mileage sensors.” Instead of knowing instinctively – and locationally – where every mile ended, as my smartwatch alerted me as well, it felt like I’d been running for hours along the new path instead of minutes! With no “markers” or familiar landmarks in new places to know where that next mile ended, it felt like an eternity to reach my ultimate goal, but it felt great when I completed my own challenge.
Some experts recommend that marathon runners cover the same running path in training as the day of the race so that they’re well equipped to handle the physical battles and variations of surfaces they’ll have to endure on competition day. Many runners are consciously aware of the different “climatic feelings” and sensations that come with taking on brand new territories.
Yes, new places are always fun and exciting until you’ve hit a spot that makes you question your abilities and motivates you to take the next turn, wherever it may lead!
The Recovery Run
Just about every seasoned runner – especially those who have ran marathons or even longer distances than usual – has a recovery run. These runs – recommended 24 hours after a hardcore run – are also fun in that they’re not made to challenge your body.
The recovery run is meant to be an easy trek where you’re not straining your muscles and endurance as you would during a serious training run or during an actual race. This type of run can consist of going at a slower pace, but still keeping your body in check and not allowing your muscles to tighten up or cramp a day after going full-force.
Recovery runs actually feel amazing because we’re not pushing ourselves too hard and we’re not timing ourselves to beat the clock. Of course, we put less pressure on ourselves during a recovery run because they’re intended to be a shorter distance and we’re not expected to exert the same energy. We’re only expected to keep our breathing steady and our blood circulating so that our bodies can handle the next big run!
Tunes And Training – They Just Go Together!
Did you download a new album or create a new list of running songs? Have you discovered some awesome beats – or rediscovered old jams that will motivate you to push through that run with all of your heart? Sometimes, finding new music gives you a reason and motivation to go on a run.
If Lady Gaga’s new album is sitting there in your phone waiting to be blasted, a “new tune run” may be right up your alley! If you have a favorite artist, especially one whose hits always get you pumped and fired up, you may just want to go out on a run to listen to your new tunes without any interruptions and in a space that’s solely yours. Maybe you don’t want to admit that you’re only going out on a run to enjoy music, but there’s no reason to tune out this form of running motivation!
During a “new tune” run, you can plan on trekking to new/different music just for the sake of enjoying the experience and being at one with the rhythms as they provide a soundtrack for your trek. Some new tunes can be a refreshing change to your running routine and create a psychologically or emotionally different environment even if you’re running in the same space as you usually do.
In the end, when you finally find the right type of run – and the right place to do it – it will inspire you to keep going and add plenty of variety to an otherwise traditional trek.
Any type of run can be fun if you crank up the “fun” factor!