Training Term Glossary

Cruise Intervals

This workout improves your lactate threshold (as do tempo and tempo intervals). Cruise intervals are run at a medium – hard effort, they include a relatively short recovery interval between. Breathing is fast and on the verge of ‘out-of-control’. Your focus is on running rhythm and pushing hard. For most athletes this pace is between your 5k and 10k effort.


Down Week

This is a recovery week. Typically where you reduce you training load by 15-25%. This allows the musculoskeletal system and mind to recover for the next training phase. Down weeks are build into all training plans. The same priniciple is applied when an athlete is feeling fatigued. Inserting a down week can aid recovery.


Easy Run

The easy run makes up the bulk of a runner’s training plan. This run is at an easy effort. The easiest way to describe this running whilst maintain a conversation. Your breathing is always under control. There should be no fatigue from an easy run. Perceived rate of exertion (1-10 scale) 1-3. As training plan progress, the length midweek run will increase. The purpose of this is to build leg strength and endurance.


Fartlek Run

A Scandinavian word meaning “speed-play”. This is a pace-change workout. There will be periods of faster running and slower running. Typically Fartlek run efforts are at either your 5k or 10k effort. You will get out of breath on the faster part and regain your breath on the “off”, recovery component. The intensity of this workout is controlled by the pace you run the faster components and the length of recovery.

For each repetition, run at an approximate effort that you feel matches the effort required. Perform this workout on a rolling course so that some fast running is performed on up hills, some on flat ground and some on down hills. Run slowly between the fast surges.

It is very important that you warm up and mobilise sufficiently before this workout.


Fast Finish Long Run

Whilst long run pace is consistent and easy. The Fast finish is where you run very fast at the end of the run. Like a longer version of the progression run. Fast finish long runs are key to racing both half marathon and marathon distances. You are pre-fatigued with the easy portion and the fast finish mimics the effort required in the long distance events. Often the fast finish will be indicated as your event goal pace or faster. They are another indicator of race readiness.

Just as important: Fast Finish Long Runs not only Build endurance, leg resistance to fatigue, practice race pace, they also allow you to practice using your equipment and nutritional routine. This is a dress rehearsal for your race. Start the run at your normal long run pace and focus on running fast the last few kms fast. Also, toward the end of your training plan match the course for this run as closely as possible with the course profile of your race.


Goal Pace

This is critical to distance specific training. As your training plan progresses it will involve goal pace workouts. These will help you dial into the pace to hit your desired time. As the race nears it is another indicator that you are race ready. It can also help to adjust your expectations and goal pace.


Hill Repeats

Purpose to help build leg strength, speed and aerobic capacity hill repeats involve finding a gentle hill with a consistent gradient between 6 – 8%. The training plan will give you a duration range where you will run for a set time, at pace. Typically, the pace will be around your 5k effort. Note that this is not your 5k pace, but rather the effort to run a 5k. On the perceived rate of exertion this is 8 out of 10. To recover jog back down the hill and repeat. The aim in this work out should be to plan to complete the second half of the reps faster than the first half.

It is very important that you warm up and mobilise sufficiently before this workout.


Long Steady Run

Purpose to build endurance and leg resistance to fatigue. Long runs are the cornerstone of endurance training. By running longer, you stimulate very important adaptations that give you the ability to run faster in your intense workouts. Time on your feet is more important than pace in a long, steady run. Run easy and run long.

Be sure to incorporate hills into your easy runs and long runs each week. Even though your race may have a predominately flat course, running over hills provides your legs with the strength needed to run a great race.

Keep the effort is easy, it may become more difficult due to the duration, as opposed to the intensity of the run. Often there is lasting fatigue after a long run and often an additional day recovery is required.


Progression Run

In this run you head out at your easy pace and then progress, go faster, as instructed. Progression runs vary, but they often include the last 5-20 minutes at a medium to hard pace. This closely mimics the effort experienced when racing. Many plans will indicate the fastest progression as you goal pace. The purpose is to ingrain finishing fast, something you'll want to do in the race.


Rest / Recovery Day

It is essential to get the optimal rest-training stress balance across your training plan. Training stresses the body. The grow stronger and fitter, you must allow for adequate recovery. Rest days are used to enhance this and maybe a complete day off or cross-training. Read more about the importance of recovery here.


Speed Workout

This workout tests your mental and physical fortitude. The effort is hard to very hard. They are specifically designed to improve your aerobic capacity (the body’s ability to transport oxygen to the working muscles). Also known as VO2 Max intervals. The pace that they are executed at is 5k race pace or faster. Recovery intervals between fast running repeats allow you to catch your breath. The last few repeats will feel very hard, try to complete these faster than the earlier repeats. This really helps you prepare for the challenge at the end of your race.

It is very important that you warm up and mobilise sufficiently before this workout.


Steady State Running

Steady State running is another medium effort workout. It helps improve lactate threshold. Your steady state pace is the pace that you can maintain for 2 and half hours. Slower then your tempo pace. Breathing is fast, but under control. You can typically talk in short sentences. For most runners this pace will be slightly slower than their 10k race pace. Running too fast is a common error on this kind of workout. Key here is to never lose your breath.



These are short, fast intervals. Controlled ‘sprints’ between 50 and 150m. During the stride focus on your form. Strides are used to both build up speed and efficiency in training. They are also used to ‘wake-up’ your anaerobic system prior to racing and typically are included in your pre-race warm-up.


Taper / PEAK

Tapering commonly refers to cutting back mileage and workout intensity one day to 3 weeks before a big race. The taper allows you to peak for your race, its duration will depend on your race distance. Tapering allows your body to rest so that it allows peak performance on race day.


Tempo Intervals

These are broken up tempo runs. Typically they last 5 to 20 minutes and include  short recovery intervals. Effort will start as medium and progress to medium hard for the last few repeats.


Tempo Run

The tempo run is a medium-effort run. It helps improve your stamina and lactate threshold (the point at which your body produces more lactate acid than it can clear). Tempo runs are usually between 10 and 40 minutes. Breathing is fast, but under control. You can typically talk in short sentences. For most runners this pace will be slightly slower (2-3s/k) than their 10k race pace. Running too fast is a common error on this kind of workout. Key here is to never lose your breath.

Tempo runs are a great way to practice pace control, start slow and ease into the right rhythm / pace.


Warm Up and Cool Down

Whilst not specified in the workout sessions, these are essential. For all Fartlek, Tempo, Goal Pace, Hills and Steady State workouts, you need to warm up sufficiently, this will include easy running, mobilisation, and dynamic stretching. This typically takes between 15 and 25minutes. It helps prepare the body for the harder workout.

Similarly, a cool down is equally important. This helps flush the lactate acid out of your system after a hard workout, it aids recovery and when combined with some stretching will help to offset any delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs). Cool downs typically take between 15 and 25 minutes.


XT (Cross Training) or Recovery

Many training plans will have a day where no training is indicated. Unless specified as a day off, you are encouraged to cross train. Doing something other than running can be advantageous for recovery. If you feel that you have to run do so at an easy pace. In training plans Cross Training is always an optional extra.