I thought running repeats were a long distance version of intervals but Ive been reading up on intervals and found mile and km long interval workouts.

Whats the difference between running intervals and repeats?

  • Difference in terms of? Actual activity? Physical exertion? Aneraobic vs Aerobic? On biology? On your shoes? Your answer could be "Repeats are long distances of intervals and 'intervals' are short distances where you do high intensity followed by rest"
    – John
    Jun 16, 2016 at 7:32
  • @JJosaur Are there differences? Maybe they are the same.
    – Jason
    Jun 17, 2016 at 2:58

2 Answers 2


This clearly depends on which definitions you're referring to as there may be several different ways to interpret these terms.

I refer to how Jack Daniels defines these terms in his 'Running Formula' (with speaking about interval and repetition pace, see wikipedia):

Intervals are meant to stress the VO2max and raise the maximum oxygen uptake capacity. In general, interval workouts have a short recovery phase such that the impulse is built up over the whole workout.

Repetitions are meant to improve speed and running economy, mostly over 200m to 400m with full recovery intervals in between.

You can use these terms without referring to special paces. I use 'repetitions' for longer distances as well with the main point of full recovery between intervals. For example, for 3x3000m repetitions it does not matter how much recovery time you use in between as long as you're fully recovered when starting the next trial. For a 3x3000m interval workout it's important to specify the recovery time (e.g. 800m).


It seems to me that intervals limit the time for your recovery before the next hard effort, and in repeats you fully recover between each hard effort. Ive seen intervals more often in training programs online where your building up fitness to run a 5k or 10k, and repeats mainly for speed work which probably helps avoid injuries.

Actually I just started reading up on speedwork when I asked this question...

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