For a beginner, the goal is usually just to cover the maximum distance. Not much thought is given to body posture or performance improvement. Structured running is training for marathon running, which involves 3 types of runs; tempo run, interval run and long run.Tempo Run
Tempo Run focuses on endurance & sustainability. Here, you run short distances at a decided pace. So it has to be slightly difficult.
You have a quick tempo (3-5km), mid-tempo (5-8 km) and long tempo (8+ km). The pace must be relative to your current pace. You start with a quick warm up and cool down with a run of at least 1.5 - 3.0 km. Your running distance can be anywhere between 3 km to 15 km. Your pace must be slower than 5k pace but faster than your HM or FM pace.
Short tempo - MP (marathon pace) minus 41 sec; Mid Tempo = MP minus 31 sec and Long tempo = MP minus 22 sec
Tempo runs improve endurance by raising your lactate threshold. Lactate is a by-product of glucose breakdown, which your body uses as an energy source. During your regular runs, your body can convert this lactic acid back into energy and clear away hydrogen ions, so the production remains constant without much demand for energy. But as you start to run faster, the production of lactic acid increases. However, your body cannot convert this back to energy at the same rate. That's how hydrogen ions build up causing pain and cramps in your muscles. Tempo run training improves the efficiency of your body in utilising lactate an energy source.Interval training
Interval runs are short bursts of speed running. The primary goal is to clock the same time during your first & last repetition. The secondary goal is to push your heart rate and improve your running form.
Interval running boosts running efficiency and increases speed. It improves VO2 max, running speed and running economy. VO2 max measures the maximum volume of oxygen that a runner uses. So interval training improves your speed and your running form by improving your metabolism.
Interval training involves track repeats of short distances of 400 meters to 2000 meters with brief recovery intervals on a repeated basis. The total distance covered in these workouts is 5km of fast running per session. The challenge is to run the entire workout within the target time with little or no deviation in the time taken for each repeat. Always start with a warm up and end with a cool down run.
Examples of workouts - Hill runs with 500 mts x 8 repetitions or 1600 mts x 3 repetitions; 6 x 800mt (90 sec recovery); 5 x 1000mt (400 Mt recovery)Long Run
Long slow paced runs are run at the runners comfort level. You build up endurance, burn fat, and it helps you gauge your pace.