In this episode, I revisit a marathon training topic that I have not covered in several months. The Long Run. Since many runners are training for Fall marathons, I thought I would take a few minutes and share with you some tips on how to do the long run workout properly as well as share a couple of variations on how to add some new life into your workout. As we approach the middle to end of the marathon training season, now is a great time to review your training to ensure you are on track and doing your long run workouts correctly.
In episode 3 – The Long Run, I cover the basics of the long run and why it is so important to your marathon training.
In this episode I review what I feel are the most important key factors in your long run workout as well as give you some idea on some variations on the workout.
The long run creates physiological adaptation that best prepares you for your race. This includes:
- increases cellular capillarization
- increased mitochondrial size for glycogen storage
- improved biochemical enzyme production and use
- greater lung capacity and endurance
- improved fat burning as a fuel source and to slow glycogen usage.
- improved muscular endurance due to hours on your feet.
The long run improves your mental training. This includes:
- increased self-confidence, especially as the miles start to add up and your runs get longer.
- increased confidence in your race day nutrition strategy and equipment concerns.
- race day simulation and visualization as the long run (done at a slower pace) often takes as long or longer than a marathon as you near the end of your training.
Some key training tips to keep in mind on how to train with the long run:
- Run at an easy pace. This is typically 30-90 seconds faster than your normal training pace.
- Focus on effort, not speed. Focus on low intensity as it is the best indicator of being in the aerobic zone for training.
- Run too fast or at a higher intensity level, and you risk training the wrong energy system (e.g. anaerobic). This reduces the effectiveness of the intended workout.
- Once you have your intensity level correct, then not your pace so you can have an idea of what you should be running.
- Make judicial use of mileage progression. Progress in reasonable increments. This is why a marathon training program is important. Some progressions include increasing miles each and every week, increase for 3-4 weeks, then have a drop back week for added adaptation, increase every other week, etc. Find our what works for you. I prefer to use dropback weeks every 3-4 weeks as I have found in my experience in coaching most recreational athletes, runners perform better overall by having a “catch-up” week, or an easy week to get a small mental break from training.
- Lower intensity long run’s allow for lower training impact and keeps you from over-training to the pointy that your mid-week workouts become adversely affected because you are too tired or not fully recovered from your long run.
The progressive long run:
The progressive long run can be a workout type for experienced runners who want to add a little bit of a race simulation into their workouts or want to increase the level of difficulty into their marathon training. It can be a great way to improve your marathon times, but should not be overused. The idea behind a progressive long run is to increase speed as the workout progresses so that you finish at or near marathon race pace. Note: If you are struggling with distance, then do not do progressive long runs until distance is no longer a challenge. Again, this is why this is best for experienced runners only.
Here are the key points to consider:
- Start off with the first 25% of the run distance being at your normal long run pace.
- Slightly increase your pace by about 10-15 seconds per mile and run this for the next 25% of the total distance. The actual speed increase depends on how far apart your long run pace is from your race pace, so estimate what would be about 25% faster between the two and increase by that much.
- Repeat the last step for the next 25% of your total run distance.
- The final 25% should be your anticipated race pace (or slightly slower). This can be grueling, if your run is long and your not an experienced runner.
Be sure to listen to the podcast to get all the supporting information in context for this topic as well as check out my other podcasts.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you have additional tips, suggestions, etc, please feel free to leave your comments, questions, tips and so on below. Also, be sure to check out my Facebook page where you can communicate and participate in group discussions with other runners in the marathon training community