RPE 2-4. These runs are your bread-and-butter workouts. Eighty percent of weekly volume should be performed at this effort. These are easy workouts at conversational pace. You should be able to speak in full sentences and easily maintain the pace for many hours.
TIP: Add in high cadence cycling or hiking workouts if you’re injury prone or newer to running. This will help add additional low-intensity aerobic volume with a lower risk of injury. Veteran and masters-age athletes can use this type of cross-training to stimulate additional aerobic volume.
Example workouts: Long runs, short maintenance runs, recovery runs, and easy cross-training sessions.
Aerobic Threshold (AeT) and Steady State (SS) Runs
RPE 5-6. I put these two runs in the same category, as it depends on intensity. Many times, you will hover between these two efforts during a workout. Start an AeT run easy, then ease into a smooth rhythm and finish at a strong, steady pace. AeT runs are strong efforts right around your aerobic ceiling that increase the number and size of mitochondria and further develop the capillary network surrounding working muscles. These workouts are not all out, but are quick enough to require focus without taking away from the next day's workout. If the intensity is slightly stronger, it becomes a Steady State run. A lower-end sub-threshold run, SS runs take concentration to stay on pace, but are hard enough to need a recovery run the next day to obtain the full rewards. You should still be able to talk in short sentences, but it requires focus to stay on pace. Steady state runs boost endurance and forestall fatigue. Requires a 15-20-minute warm-up at easy pace and a cooldown period after.
Example AeT workouts: (RPE 5) Mid-week longish runs, strong-finish runs with 10-40 minutes at AeT effort.
Example SS workouts: (RPE 6) Strong-finish runs with 30-60 minutes at SS effort, 4x10 minute intervals followed by 3 minutes at easy aerobic pace, or 3x12 minutes with 5 minutes at easy aerobic effort. Start with shorter intervals and work up to longer durations as you progress.