Most Common Running Session Explained for You

One of the biggest advantages of doing different running sessions is the variety it can bring to your running. This in turn helps you develop as a runner, strengthens your cardiovascular system and muscles, avoids repetition.

New to Running?

Whether you’re new to running or a more seasoned runner, the idea of running sessions and the terminology around these can be a little alien and often somewhat confusing. From tempo runs to strides, to base runs to jeffing- there is a lot of jargon out there and navigating through it is sometimes a little baffling. 

There is nothing scary about ‘sessions’ and they aren’t something reserved for elite or ‘fast’ runners, we can all do them and we can all benefit from them- they are simply a way of categorising runs within your training based on their purpose, intensity or duration.

Types of Session Explained

Warm Up / Cool Down

It is important to warm up and cool down with each session. Warming up before you run can prevent injury, get your blood flowing, bring your heart rate up, mobilise and prepare your body to work and help improve your form. Think about incorporating walking, dynamic movements, drills and strides.

Cooldown can be a slow run, through to walking, making sure that this is the only point in which you consider static stretching. Stretching at the end will help re-align muscle fibres, reducing aches and pains the next few days improving recovery time


Encorporated during a running session or at the end to help increase leg turnover and pace. Anything from 3 to 6 repetitions.

These give you a chance to raise your heart rate and get your blood flowing, work on mechanics, think about form and relax into faster running. You want to aim for 20-35 seconds of ‘fast’ running- around 85-95% effort- so they’re fast but not flat out. Stretch before then ease into each stride rather than exploding out from the start.

Steady / Easy Run

A base run is a steady run done at a natural and comfortable pace. I think of these as my happy pace runs where I just ignore my watch and run to feel, rather than focusing on a set pace. These are short to moderate in length and you should be able to hold a conversation at the pace you choose.

Taking the pressure off pace also gives you a chance to think about form or just zone out and listen to music. With regards to pace you may find that what is comfortable can change daily based on tiredness, energy levels or hormones and its important to just go with it on these runs

Progression Run

Progression runs are where your speed progresses during the run. You start off at your natural pace and end at a faster pace.

The idea is that these are a little more challenging without leaving you feeling completely drained and they can be great if you’re thinking about targeting a PB via negative splits (where the latter half of the race is ran quicker than the first half). There are a couple of ways of progressing your speed, from running a quick final mile or km, or running each mile/km faster than the one before. 

Long Run / Long Slow Run

These are runs that are longer than your base distance and help you to go the distance in a race. ‘Long’ is a very subjective term for some a long run may be done over 30km or for others 8km may feel long- remember it is YOUR training.

These are often referred to as long slow runs because many run them slower than their natural pace to help build endurance. Others choose to vary the pace, and some even incorporate miles or kms done at race pace (the pace you’d target when racing). Spoiler, these aren’t just reserved for #sundayrunday and can in fact be run any day of the week- whatever takes your fancy.

And finally, don’t forget to fuel these runs if necessary- your long run can double up as a great way to test nutrition strategies, products and kit


Fartlek is a Swedish term meaning speed play and these sessions do just that by blending endurance and speed intervals. These runs will feel more challenging and leave you feeling out of breath but ultimately the goal is to help you become faster over longer distances.

When mixing speeds up I often pick a loop and challenge myself to run certain speeds between lampposts to give myself something to target on the harder runs. I find these the most challenging sessions because you never feel like you’ve settled into your pace as the speed changes periodically (as opposed to intervals below which have more defined on/off efforts throughout the session)


Intervals are regular bursts of effort separated by equal or slightly longer periods of recovery- slower running, jogging, walking or momentarily stopping to catch your breath. These help you learn to run at a faster pace and get a chance to experience what a faster pace feels like without the pressure to hold onto it- you can relax and know that the break is coming. Interval sessions can be done on the track- e.g. a track session or off the track.

You can run intervals based on distance e.g. 200s, or time 1 minute on 1 minute off.

Pyramid Sessions

These are interval based sessions in terms of high intensity periods interspersed with lower intensity periods, but instead the distance (both ‘fast’ and ‘slow’) increases up to a max distance or time duration, then decreases. For example one session is 200m on/off, 400m on/off, 600m on/off, 800m on/off then back down- so 600m, 400m, 200m on/off. Or you could run for 1 min at threshold pace, rest 1 min, run 2min, rest 1min up to 3 or 4 mins and back down.

Tempo / Threshold Run

Tempo runs are another more challenging session, targeting a sustained speed that is about 30seconds slower than your goal race pace- not flat out. These help your body get an idea of what it feels like to go harder for longer, increase endurance and maintain a speedier pace which can help prevent you from fading at the end of a race. Trying to condition your body and muscles work close to their lactate threshold.  Make sure you adequately recover after these sessions.

Hill Repeats

Hill reps are a great session for developing propulsion and managing fatigue. The idea is that once you’re suitably warmed up you mix together sections of strong, ‘fast’ uphill running with a gentle run, jog or walk back down the hill. You can either run to the top of a hill or select a section to run up. My biggest tip for these is pick a noticeable landmark for example a lamppost, post box or parked car as your uphill finish line, that way you can look up, focus on that and drive towards it.

Kenyan Hills

Similar to Threshold / Tempo session, however your recovery period is that and not a slow run. Take this 90sec to 2 minute break to get your breath back then go again. Start these intervals off for short periods around 3 minutes at as close to Threshold pace as you can maintain and repeat. As you get used to this up the time and frequency of the intervals

Recovery / Easy Runs

These are an easy short session (both in terms of time and distance) that is done at a relatively easy pace. The logic behind these is that you can get your legs moving the day after a harder session and add mileage to your weekly training without pushing your body too hard. These often feel like a shuffle and are likely to be at a slower pace than your base run. Whilst the name suggests these are part of your recovery, which is true to an extent, actual rest is another vital part of your recovery.


Jeffing is the incorporation of regular run/walk intervals throughout your target distance. This can be done in a training session or in a race. Taking regular run breaks can help you finish faster than just running, help avoid injury/exhaustion, recover more quickly and give you chance to push yourself on the running sections. Jeffing is always a great way to help rediscover your mojo or love of running

Hopefully reading the above these can help keep boredom and injuries at bay and give you a chance to find what aspects of running you enjoy- you might love a speed session or prefer something long and slow.

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