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VERIFIED CONTENTAuthor: Maciej Szukała

In order to constantly develop in any chosen sports discipline, it is not enough just to perform subsequent trainings. A well-structured exercise plan is one that takes into account various types of training stimuli. Their interchangeable use forces the continuous adaptation of the body. This also applies to runners. Read what types of training you can do to improve your form.

Composing a running training plan does not have to be difficult. If you are an amateur, you are free to experiment with different types of training measures by changing their layout, duration and intensity. It is only important that your exercises are not the same over and over again. Complete the plan with different types of exercises and discover your running potential!

Why change the training stimuli?

Although at first it may seem that your progress in running comes by itself, you will quickly notice that progress fades over time - speed stands still, time stops improving, and workouts give less and less satisfaction. This is due to the stagnation of the body. Many athletes spend months (and sometimes even years!) Doing exactly the same workouts, without paying attention to the volume and intensity of the training plan.

Unfortunately, such action, if not interrupted in time, causes that most people simply get discouraged. Lack of progress is interpreted as lack of predisposition and reaching the limit of one's own abilities. However, the truth is quite different! It is still very far to the limit, your body just got bored with training!

What is the change in running training?

The principle of training variability applies to absolutely every sport. It assumes that the body should be subjected to various types of stress that activate different types of muscle fibers and stimulate the nervous system in a different way.

Whether you're lifting weights, boxing, or running marathons, every job you do in training requires the involvement of a specific system to generate energy that will be used up by working muscles. This can be an ATP-PCR system for short-term efforts (e.g. sprint runs), but it can also beoxygen breathing (e.g. for long distance runs).

In order for your body to function efficiently, you should take care of every aspect of training. The use of various training measures in running allows you to:

  • increasing the ability to store glycogen in muscles,
  • increasing resistance to fatigue,
  • increasing the amount of white, red or mixed muscle fibers,
  • better mental preparation for a given type of effort,
  • increasing the ability to metabolize lactic acid,
  • improvement of the body's efficiency (e.g. by faster ATP renewal, increasing VO2Max).

The principle of training variability is supplemented by the principle of specificity. It means that apart from the period of building the general form, the trainings should be adjusted to the requirements of a specific discipline.

In practice, specificity should be understood so that the sprinter will not train immediately before the long races, and the marathon runner does not need to perform very short and dynamic sections.

What are running training measures?

Training measures can be compared to various types of training of the same muscle group in bodybuilders. They are designed to develop your running form by engaging the muscles, nervous and circulatory and respiratory systems in various ways.

Running trainers usually distinguish three groups of training measures:

  • continuous runs - consist of covering a longer distance with varying intensity,
  • accents - usually short stretches covered in a strictly defined range of pace or heart rate,
  • running strength - strength exercises are used to strengthen the deep muscles, improve work ergonomics and running technique.

Within each group of training measures, you can list a number of different types of exercises, and all of them should be included in your running training plan.

Like gym-goers, runners also rely on training periodization. This means that the entire calendar year is divided into specific segments. In the simplest terms, there are:

  • training base - this is an introduction to specialized training,
  • endurance - at this stage, you mainly work on your body's aerobic capacity,
  • anaerobic endurance - the third phase is mainly based on developing anaerobic endurance,
  • direct start preparation - it precedes the competition season in high priority competitions.

Of course, this is not the only model of training periodization (another model is e.g. regeneration, accumulation,transformation and peak). It is also worth remembering that regardless of the adopted systematics, the duration of each stage will be different for different runners. A lot depends on what training level they start exercising, how many starts they predict in the season and how much they want to use the body.

Regardless of the model of training periodization adopted, different training measures are used in different segments. Let's take a look at how runners train.

Continuous runs

Continuous running is a group of training measures typical of long-distance disciplines. If you train, for example, for a half-marathon, marathon or ultra, these are the methods you will most often use (about 80-90% of all workouts).

In medium and short-distance runners, they are a definite minority and are mainly used to accelerate the regeneration of the body after heavy accents. The main goal of continuous runs is to shape cardiovascular capacity and the processes responsible for aerobic muscle respiration.


Jog is a slow run at a comfortable pace that allows you to have a relaxed conversation. Sometimes the pace does not differ much from a normal march. It is usually carried out at the level of the first or second training intensity zone (HR 65% or less). It can be treated as a regenerative training unit (e.g. a day after long intervals) or a separate training aimed at developing the oxygen base (especially important for ultra distances).

Jogging is also the recommended intensity for beginner runners, until their body is ready for stronger stimuli.

For more advanced runners, jogging will be useful as a break between running accents or a way to overcome large elevations.

Running (so-called OWB1, i.e. general running endurance in the first intensity range).

One of the most commonly used training measures, which consists in covering the assumed distance at a pace only slightly faster than the warm-up (heart rate during the entire activity varies between 65 and 75% of the maximum intensity). Running, just like jogging, is performed in the first intensity zone. Depending on the terrain you are running on, jogging should focus on:

  • total altitudes overcome (in the case of mountain runners),
  • heart rate or pace (for asph alt runners).

Contrary to jogging, running does not constitute a separate training unit, but is a link between faster stretches.

Second range (OWB2, i.e. general running endurance insecond range)

OWB2 training consists of covering long distances (even 20 kilometers or more) at a pace similar to a marathon, i.e. the kind that a runner would theoretically be able to keep on the route, which would take 3 to 5 hours to cover.

Marathon pace training is one of the most effective training measures if you plan to gradually increase your distance.

Long run

Cross-country trips usually take place in an attractive area (forest, suburbs, mountains). It is not about maintaining a certain pace, but about staying in motion. Therefore, bring a backpack or vest, something to drink and eat. Do not be high on the pace, the ground to keep moving forward.

It is assumed that a typical jogging trip should last 90 minutes or more. Its goal is to gradually prepare the body for extended working hours, but also to wisely manage energy reserves.

For many runners, trips are a way to get to know new, interesting running routes in the area.


Cross training is nothing but trail running. Uneven ground and ascents and descents strengthen the muscles of the legs and buttocks, and shape the psyche of a runner who gets used to changes in pace and learns to control them. They also force you to choose the right strategy to overcome surges.

Depending on the training approach, divide the crosses into active and passive, or overcome with an upper or lower break. Then some or all of the ascent or the ascent will be completed faster.

Running fun (apron)

Training method straight from Sweden. Its structure is not precisely arranged, but consists in combining jerks, jogging rest and longer, fast stretches into one whole, but in varying proportions. It helps to rest the head after hard training and prepares the runner well for sudden changes of pace.

Increasing speed run (BNP)

These types of training are a pre-flight exercise simulation. They consist in combining the sections covered with ever higher speeds (from free jog to sprint).

Running with increasing speed is extremely strenuous for the body and mind and should not be done too often.

Interestingly, the BNP scheme is used in sports watches as a training to check maximum heart rate.

Training accents

Among the accents are rhythms and sprints. Both types of training involve overcoming sections with high intensity (85-90%) and dividing themactive rests. The longer the stretch of work, the slower the target pace should be. The purpose of the accents is to improve the speed, dynamics and technique of running. They also develop anaerobic metabolism.

Rhythms are between 100 and 500 meters, sprints can be even shorter. It is very important that the break between consecutive stretches allows you to fully recover and perform each repetition with the same intensity.

If you feel that the next rhythm is too slow, it is better to stop training. Experienced runners also emphasize incomplete rest (when the break time is shorter than the working time). However, this is a very intense training method and is not recommended for beginners.

Accents work well as a complement to continuous running and stimulation of fast twitch muscle fibers.

Running force

Running exercises that improve running strength are used to improve running technique, strengthen muscle endurance and make ascents and descents faster. What's more, even a slight increase in muscle will make the joints better protected against injury. What exercises have a positive effect on running strength?

  • strength gymnastics - exercises with the use of rubber bands, balls, and body weight - push-ups, squats, pull-ups,
  • training in the gym - especially multi-joint exercises (rowing in the descent, squats with a barbell, exercises with kettlebells),
  • cross-country skips (A, B, C) and multi-jumps,
  • uphill runs - the easiest way to build running strength without the need for equipment.

Remember to do running strength workouts 1 to 3 times a week and do not be afraid of excessive muscle growth.

How do I change my training load?

Runners, like representatives of other sports, should differentiate the training load so that the body is familiar with different intensity of training stimuli. Besides, you can't keep training anymore. Progress in running is made by:

  • increasing weekly mileage,
  • increasing the weekly amount of height difference,
  • increasing the number of quick accents,
  • adding strength exercises,
  • adding more running workouts.

Never try to increase all components at the same time as you risk getting injured!

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