Understanding Common Running Terms

running terms

Quite often when talking about training I get asked what running terms mean, so I thought I would cover off on some training terminology.


These runs are supposed to be informal and unplanned. The idea is to work on your speed work but has no real plan. When I am training fartleks I like to see a sign and push myself to get to that sign as quickly as possible and then drop back down into an easier run, then I will pick another landmark and push towards that. The great thing is because they are unplanned you can push as much as you can, but if you need to recover a bit longer that is ok too.


Long Slow Distance runs are generally a lot slower than your race pace. The idea of these runs is to build distance and should be comfortable and enjoyable. I find the best LSD runs are when your running with a friend and you both can chat and laugh the entire run. They should not be stressful, in fact, you should just enjoy the company and the beautiful scenery.


The idea behind strides is to work on form and technique. Your goal should be to increase your stride length and maintain a quick foot turnover.

Easy Run/Recovery Run/Zone 2 Training

An easy run would normally be 1 to  2 minutes slower than your race pace. When doing an easy run you should focus on your breathing and technique. An easy/recovery run would normally be 60-70% maximum heart rate or in Zone 2. At first, if you are not used to training at these lower heart rates you will find it quite challenging; however, as time goes on you find your body will start to improve on fat utilization and also increase lactate clearance. I would be recommending that endurance athletes include a lot more easy runs in their training schedule.


Intervals are a great way to increase your speed. When I am running intervals I will push for 1km and then go into a recovery run or walk for 1 to 2 minutes. That being said, you can split your intervals up any way you like. If I am doing a run/walk I will often run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute, or even run for 4 minutes walk for 1 minute.


Threshold running is running at a pace where lactate does not increase significantly in the blood during the run. These runs are a great way to gain aerobic fitness. A threshold run should normally be slower than your 5 or 10km race pace, but harder than your normal easy run. If you are using a heart rate training program you would normally aim to be in zone 4 for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. I will mix up my threshold running and include some intervals of 6 to 10 minutes threshold running followed by a few minutes of easy zone 2 or 3 running.


When running a tempo run you are maintaining a comfortably hard or challenging pace. You should be able to hold these runs a lot longer than your threshold run. If you are heart rate training you are aiming run at a maximum of 80-85% HR.

Steady Run

These runs are a great way to build aerobic strength. They are basically steady state cardio and normally performed in heart rate zone 3. Usually, a steady state run for me would be maintaining a constant pace and heart rate for 40 minutes to an hour.

Written by Bre Gustafson, Fitness Manager at Spa Lady Westbrook and avid runner.