Different Types of Running

As a beginner, you’ll probably be more familiar with road running as it’s more ‘out there’ than any other kind. We drive past people pounding the pavements on our way to work, and most televised races are also tarmac based.

As you get into running you’ll hear people mention words like ‘trail’ or ‘fell’. No, they didn’t fall over (they probably did, but if there’s no photographic evidence then it didn’t happen), they’re talking about something other than road running.

I’ve listed the main types of running below just to give you an insight into what is out there if you’re getting a little bit bored with road running or just fancy something different.


This is the most familiar type of running, one that we probably all start with. Road running involves (funnily enough) running on roads and pavements. Road running races can vary distance wise from 5k (usually) right up to ultra marathons.

Many people complain of knee trouble due to striking the ground very hard with their feet but with the right footwear and the correct running technique road running is just as beneficial than any other type of running.


Trail running involves running on uneven pathways and grass type routes. Think of the Bradford Millenium Way, a perfect example of a trail route. This can include running through forests and woods, and also fields and public tracks.

There are a few hazards when trail running…cows, and any other livestock really. A lot of routes go through farmers fields, please respect their wishes for you to close gates etc. Also be aware that animals can be very dangerous, if you feel any doubt about what might happen, it might be an idea to find a different route.

That being said, many people enjoy trail running from a social aspect, it’s more interesting than road running and most people aren’t too bothered about running fast as they will be watching where they are putting their feet.


Fell running is something else altogether! Fell running routes usually involve a mega hill that is uneven, grassy and rocky. Runners will run/climb up the ‘ascending’ parts of the route and throw themselves down the ‘descending’ part of the route. Fell runners are normally hardened to any kind of weather and can usually be found wearing their vest and shorts in the middle of winter!

Races are categorised according to their ascent and their distance. Ascents are categorised A, B, or C (A being the toughest), and distances are categorised L, M, or S (long, medium, or short). If you are new to Fell running it might be worth trying is CS race to see what you think. If you are unsure on what routes to use for training have a look at The Long Distance Walkers Association website here.

Cross Country

Most people will have memories of Cross Country running at school (unless you were one of those that jumped over the wall and had a sneaky smoke). This involves running either solo or as part of a team depending on the race event, over grass, dirt and usually through a hell of a lot of mud.

Cross Country can be fun but a lot of people take this very seriously and some brilliant race times can be achieved due to the shorter race distances. If you’re going to give this a go, make sure you take extra clothing with you…

Track & Field

I’ve recently got back into Track & Field and I must say, I sometimes feel like a bit of an old git as the people I train with are still in school! But hey, I’m giving it a go! There are many different disciplines within track and field:

  • 60m – 10,000m
  • 60m hurdles – 400m hurdles
  • 3,000 steeplechase
  • 4x100m relay
  • 4x400m relay
  • pole vault
  • high jump
  • long jump
  • triple jump
  • shot put
  • discus throw
  • hammer throw
  • javelin throw
  • pentathlon
  • heptathlon
  • decathlon

to name a few…

Find a club that has a track and field coach to get the best help and advice with techniques and other information. I love track and field training, there’s so much variety and I feel great once I’ve finished!

There are other types of running including Extreme and Ultra Distance running but since I haven’t done either I thought it would be unfair to write about something I know nothing about.

So, there you have it. Find what you love and don’t be afraid to just give something a go. If it doesn’t work, at least you can say you tried!

Happy running, AAUK


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