What type of runner are you?

Next time you see another runner out on the street, take a closer look. Is he thinking about smashing his 10K PB next week, or getting smashed at the pub later with his running friends? Is she wondering how she'll fit in next week's training, or how well her new designer lycra shorts fit her bum?

Of course, we all have different reasons for running, but many of us have more in common than you might think. We've looked at the evidence and come up with four general categories of runner, characterised by the way they run, how they think about running and how they manage the rest of their lives. If you're the type of runner who likes questionaires, try this one* - you'll find out what kind of runner you are, how you can get more out of your sport, and what you can learn from the other 'types'.

* Please answer all the questions to allow us to assess your running type.

Do you often vary your routes?

a) Not really. I like to compare times on a few courses as a check on my fitness.
b) Yes, I know the town better than the postman. Exploring is half the fun.
c) It depends - if others are going on a new route, I'm happy to tag along.
d) No. I stick to a few routes because I find that the time seems to pass more quickly when I'm on familiar ground.

How important are the health benefits of running to you?

a) I don't think about them. I would probably still train hard even if doing so was bad for me.
b) I'm glad there are long-term benefits, but I'm more focused on how good running makes me feel today.
c) They were one of my main reasons for starting, but now other things, like camaraderie, are what keep me running.
d) They're very important. I like how running makes me look and feel, and it's a great way to keep my weight in check.

You're a minute slower for a 5K than you were last year. What do you do about it?

a) Look through my training diary for an explanation, seek advice on running message boards, and resolve to lose those two extra pounds I've been carrying around.
b) Don't care too much as long as the experience feels the same.
c) Figure it's time to resume speedwork at my running club. I slack off when I'm on my own.
d) How far is 5K again?

You usually run after work, but your new boss asks if you want to go out for a drink. Do you go?

a) If it's a planned recovery day, maybe. On the day of an important session, never.
b) No. When I go to bed that night, I'd much rather have gone for my run than met a -social obligation.
c) No. I'm due to meet the gang for a run, then go out for beer and pizza.
d) Yes. I'll rearrange my schedule and make up for the run tomorrow.

A pain that started a few weeks ago has become worse and now you can hardly run. What do you do?

a) Start a cross-training program to maintain my fitness, and revise my racing plans.
b) Hobble through a few miles at whatever pace I can manage, and ice it later.
c) Volunteer to work at upcoming races to stay connected to the running community.
d) Sign up for that yoga class I've wanted to try.

What's your take on diet?

a) Food is fuel for racing and training. As the saying goes, if the furnace is hot enough, it will burn anything.
b) I don't really think about my diet in terms of running, other than I know which foods interfere with my running and I avoid them.
c) I know I would probably be a better runner if I was more careful about my diet, but my running doesn't dictate what I eat.
d) Watching my diet is an important part of my overall fitness regime. That said, I like to reward myself with a treat now and then.

What's important in a race?

a) Fast course, good competition, good weather. I'm there to meet a time goal. Good awards certainly don't hurt.
b) Good organisation. I want to be able to concentrate on my running and not have to worry about whether the course is accurate.
c) Lots of people to run with and a good post-race spread. It should feel like a party.
d) I don't race much, but when I do a nice T-shirt and a good charitable cause.

You just don't feel like running. What do you do?

a) Look through my training log for an explanation. If I have a race coming up, I'll probably back off for a few days until my legs feel fresh again.
b) Head out - I'll feel better once I get going. Feeling bored or tired isn't a reason not to run.
c) Call my running buddies in search of company; that will motivate me.
d) Take a few days off from running and do some other exercise instead.

Long runs are...

a) A key component of performance. I don't always like them, but they have to be done.
b) A weekly ritual that I enjoy.
c) The social highlight of my week. I don't really look forward to doing long runs by myself.
d) A great way to burn calories.

What do you think about lifting weights?

a) It's not essential but it does help my finish-line kick. But generally I think that time spent lifting would be better spent running.
b) I don't like lifting weights, but I know it helps me to avoid injury, so I do it in order to keep on running.
c) Lifting pints of beer after a run is important.
d) I enjoy lifting weights. I feel stronger after a workout - and it helps me to fit into my clothes better.