Running workouts give you the structure you need to keep on running and achieve your goals. But some routines can feel as complex as math exercises – with the side effect of sore muscles!

However, running training doesn’t have to feel complicated. If you want to run faster, focus on simple, proven workouts rather than quick hacks and secret strategies. 

Having a low body mass index can improve your running performance, so you may want to review your nutrition habits. Variety is also something to keep in mind, as diverse exercises are often the most effective.

By following a well-rounded running workout plan, combined with a healthy diet, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more efficient runner.

In This Article

What Are Running Workouts?

Simply put, running workouts are different types of runs. They are structured exercises designed to increase speed and boost performance and endurance in runners of all levels. Running workouts can provide a framework to help you stay consistent and reach your running goals. 

There are various types of running exercises, such as cardio, treadmill, and interval workouts, each targeting different aspects of your fitness. For example, an interval workout might involve alternating between high-intensity sprints and low-intensity recovery jogs. 

Now let’s get practical and look at different types of running workouts to help you become a stronger, faster runner. We’ll discuss the best interval, cardio, and track workout ideas to include in your training plan.

8 Running Workouts for Any Runner

What makes the difference between great running workouts and the rest?

As we’ll see, HIIT running workouts improve aerobic capacity, peak power, and mean power, making them an excellent choice if you want to improve your pace and boost your overall fitness. 

Meanwhile, incorporating tempo runs into your training plan can help you reach your lactate threshold. It is the point when lactic acid starts building in your muscles thanks to high-intensity physical exercise – an essential aspect of endurance training.

And let’s not forget recovery runs, which promote muscle repair and growth, help prevent injuries, and contribute to building a strong foundation for your running performance.

Ready to discover more running workout types to transform your training? Let’s dive in!

plus size runner workout on the beach

1. Easy run 

Slow run, or easy running, focuses on maintaining a comfortable, relaxed pace to build aerobic fitness, increase endurance, and aid recovery. During a slow run, keep an easy pace that allows effortless breathing and minimal strain. 

How it helps

This workout helps improve running efficiency and your body’s ability to burn fat. Typically forming most of a runner’s weekly mileage, the length of slow runs can vary depending on your goals and fitness level. 

How to do an easy run?

Keep a controlled, conversational pace during this run. You should be able to talk in full sentences through most of your easy run; otherwise – slow down. Aim for an effort level of 3 out of 10. 

Listening to your body and avoiding overexertion during these sessions is essential.

2. Tempo run workout

Tempo runs train your body to run faster for longer periods, making them one of the best speed workouts for distance runners. The tempo run pace is faster than your mile pace but slower than your sprint speed. 

People running consistently will find this workout a bit easier. If you’re a beginner – the idea is to get used to running at a comfortable pace for longer.

How it helps

  • Helps you build strength and speed
  • Boosts your aerobic fitness
  • Increases your lactate threshold and running endurance 

How to do a tempo run?

  1. Know your tempo pace – this is around 85–90% of your max heart rate. To calculate it, subtract your age from 220 and divide the result by 85%. For a 29-year-old, this would mean 220-29×0.85=162.35 or a pace that keeps your heart working at 162 beats per minute.
  2. Warm up with a 10-minute easy run.
  3. Speed up to your tempo run pace. Maintain a pace that makes it difficult for you to hold a conversation.
  4. Keep it up between 20 and 40 minutes or do shorter sets adding up to the total amount, for example, two sets of 10 minutes for a total of 20 minutes.
  5. Cool down with an easy 10-minute run.
  6. As a beginner, you may want to use a more in-depth guide on tempo runs first and do them no more than twice a week.

3. Long run

If you’re looking for endurance workouts to make you last longer on both track and trail, long runs are your go-to option. 

These workouts are an essential part of endurance running training for longer distances like a marathon or half marathon. Even if you have no marathon plans, they are excellent training for beginner runners.

Strengthening your leg muscles will also help you adapt to longer, continuous running, so you may want to consider mixing in some squats, lunges, or box jumps into your routine. 

How it helps

  • Helps you maintain a quick pace for longer
  • Improves your late race pace
  • Boosts your aerobic capacity
  • May improve your body’s ability to turn fat into fuel
  • Increases confidence in your ability to run long distances fast

How to do a long run?

  1. Warm up at an easy, comfortable pace.
  2. Your long run should amount to 20–25% of your total weekly running distance. For example, if you run 20 miles per week, your long run should be between 4 and 5 miles.
  3. Ideally, you want to run for at least 60 minutes during long runs to prepare your body’s metabolism for a long race. If this is too long for you, keep it up for as long as you feel comfortable
  4. Run at a pace that is 10–20% slower than your marathon pace. If your marathon pace is 8:30 minutes per mile, your long run pace should be between 9:20 and 10:30 minutes. For optimal results, track your times and do the math.
  5. Alternatively, you can progressively increase your pace to finish near your marathon pace.
  6. As this running exercise can be quite hard on your body, stay hydrated and take in up to 300 calories or 75 carbs per hour every 15 minutes.

4. Hill sprint workout

If you’re looking to build speed while developing your leg and calf strength, hill sprints are a perfect addition to your training plan. 

runner going up stairs for hill sprint workout

While there are a few different types of hill sprints, let’s look at how to perform the basic one.

As this can be a relatively tough workout for your muscles, begin with a proper warm-up.  

How it helps

  • Improves your running speed
  • Increases your agility and leg strength
  • Reduces the risk of injuries at higher speeds (with proper warm-up and cool-down)

How to do a hill sprint?

  1. Jog at an easy pace for 10 minutes as a warm-up, increasing your speed toward the end of your warm-up two times for 10 seconds. You can break the quick strides at the end with walking.
  2. Allow time for a recovery period and cool down.
  3. On a moderate hill or incline, sprint up for 10 seconds.
  4. Allow 60 seconds for recovery as you come down the hill and your breathing returns to normal.
  5. Repeat 7–10 times, depending on your fitness level.
  6. You can also do hill sprints on a treadmill to minimize the stress that the descent puts on your knees.
  7. Cool down with a short, easy jog.

5. Progression run

Progression runs simulate a late race push. You start slow and gradually increase your pace. You can insert progression runs between other types of runs.

If you’re used to long runs and other workouts that encourage you to maintain a steady pace, a progression run can be challenging in a good way.

How it helps

  • Improves your aerobic system
  • Gives your body a good warm-up before you increase the pace
  • Makes you a more disciplined runner by preventing you from speeding up too soon

How to do a progression run?

Start with a 45-minute run at progressively higher paces as follows:

  1. Run the first 15 minutes at an easy aerobic pace that enables you to have a conversation with a fellow runner.
  2. Run the next 15 minutes at a faster but comfortable pace.
  3. Run the last 15 minutes at a hard effort, fast pace.

6. Fartlek running workout

If so far we’ve looked at structured workouts, now it’s time to turn to a more flexible approach to speed training – the fartlek run

Fartlek means “speed play” in Swedish, and, as the name suggests, it is a good workout if you want to get creative and playful.  

During a fartlek running session, you can change gears and mix fast and slow runs while varying pace and distance. 

How it helps

  • Improves your sprinting
  • Can improve your race pace as well as race tactics, e.g., overtaking competitors in spurts
  • Improves muscle endurance

How to do a fartlek run?

  1. Warm up by jogging at an easy pace for 10 minutes or 1 mile.
  2. Continue for another 4 miles, incorporating 4 fartlek intervals.
  3. Pick a tree, street sign, mailbox, or other landmark and sprint to it, or just sprint up a hill.
  4. Jog for a few minutes before accelerating up an incline or sprinting to another location.
  5. Vary your sprints, pace, and distances for each fartlek session. It’s all about feeling and the landscape.

7. Interval running workout

If you’re wondering how to train for running faster, interval runs are a fun, easily adaptable option. They are one of the best workouts to increase speed. 

Interval running such as mile repeats is an excellent choice for people running at various fitness levels because it allows you to alternate run/walk intervals. So, if you’re more comfortable with brisk walking or slower running, intervals could be your next favorite running workout.

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If you choose to do a more intense version of this workout, begin with a proper warm-up.  

How it helps

  • Improves your aerobic capacity 
  • Builds stronger muscles
  • Accustoms your legs to faster running speeds

How to do an interval workout?

  1. Warm up by jogging at an easy pace.
  2. Do a 30-second speed interval at a fast pace below your sprinting pace.
  3. Alternate with 1 minute of brisk or slow walking for recovery.
  4. Repeat the interval and cool down.
  5. After recovering from the second interval, perform a 30-second sprint.
  6. Cool down with a 1-minute walk.
  7. Repeat the sprint and walk interval for up to 17 minutes.
  8. After your workout, allow your body to cool down with a short jog at a slower pace.

8. Ladder running workout

Last but not least on our list is ladder workout running, a variation of interval training, and another effective high-intensity exercise to build speed. 

This type of training alternates different speed levels, so it’s one of the more enjoyable ways to improve your pace. It’s anything but boring!

To do the ladder run drills correctly, you need to know your marathon, half marathon, and 5K pace. 

How it helps

  • Improves your agility
  • Strengthens joints and ligaments
  • Improves your footwork at high speed
  • Can also improve coordination 

How to do a ladder run?

Start with a short, light jog. Next, alternate different paces with a 1-minute recovery pace in between as follows:

  1. Run for 5 minutes at your usual marathon pace, then recover.
  2. Run for 4 minutes at half your marathon pace, then recover.
  3. Run for 3 minutes at your 10K pace, then recover.
  4. Run for 2 minutes at your 5K pace, then recover.
  5. Sprint for 1 minute, then recover.
  6. Cool down with 5 minutes of easy jogging.
runner resting after good running workout


How many days should I rest between running workouts?

The number of rest days in your running training schedule depends on your fitness level, training goals, and the intensity of your workouts. Generally, it is recommended to have at least one or two rest days per week to allow your muscles to recover and prevent overtraining. 

If you push yourself too hard and end up with tight or strained muscles, massage or muscle activation techniques can help.  

If you’re a beginner, start with more rest days and gradually increase your training frequency. That way, your body will have time to adapt to the new routine, and you’ll stay injury-free. 

How to control my breathing during running workouts?

To control your breathing while running, try practicing diaphragmatic breathing, where you expand your stomach instead of your chest when you inhale. This technique allows you to take deeper breaths and get more oxygen into your system.

You can also experiment with different breathing rhythms, such as inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two steps. 

Adjust your breathing pattern according to the intensity of your run and consider using nasal breathing during slower-paced runs or inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth for more intense workouts.


Fast, steady, and incremental – that’s the best approach to running workouts for boosting your speed and endurance. 

In addition, a variety in your routine can boost your overall fitness and help develop muscular endurance. That’s why including HIIT and endurance workouts in your training is essential. 

The quality of your sleep, what you eat, and the supplements you take will also affect your speed as a runner. Don’t neglect these.

And don’t forget that once you become fast, you need to keep running to stay fast. Over time, that means speeding up to workouts for intermediate and advanced runners.

As a recap, let’s take another look at how different running workouts elevate your performance:

  • Long runs: Build aerobic capacity and mental resilience by incorporating longer, slower-paced runs into your training routine.
  • Progression runs: Enhance aerobic fitness and discipline by gradually increasing your pace during a run, teaching your body to adapt to faster speeds.
  • Hill sprints: Develop leg strength, agility, and explosive power by incorporating uphill sprints into your training regimen.
  • Fartlek workouts: Boost your speed and race tactics with unstructured, creative workouts that involve varying your pace and distance throughout a run.
  • Tempo runs: Improve your ability to maintain a faster pace for longer periods by incorporating runs at a challenging but sustainable pace.
  • Interval training: Enhance aerobic capacity, muscle strength, and recovery by alternating between bursts of high-intensity running and low-intensity recovery periods.
  • Ladder workouts: Increase agility, joint strength, and coordination by varying the pace and distance of your intervals, gradually building up to faster speeds and then decreasing back down.

Want to take your training to the next level? Take the Joggo quiz, create a personalized running workout plan, and get access to:

  • Coach-like audio guidance to fine-tune your pace, form, and technique.
  • Progress tracking and analytics to improve your performance.
  • Pro tips on topics such as running technique, breathing, and race-day nutrition.
  • Apple Watch integration to track your runs and monitor your heart rate zones.


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Written by

Chris Zibutis

Chris Zibutis is the Head Running Coach and founder of Joggo – that one person on earth who loves interval runs.  He holds a degree from Copenhagen Business School and is an avid runner – having participated in numerous marathons and triathlons, Chris brings substantial fitness and running experience to the Joggo team.