Ah, the long run. The pivotal run of each week. The one we plan meals and weekends around. The run that, when it’s done, makes us feel like a million bucks.
Sometimes you have one goal for your long run: to finish it. With no worry about pace or how long it takes, as long as you complete the distance, you’re a happy runner.
Then, like most runners, you start thinking about the next race…and how you can improve. If you’ve always ran long runs at a slow, steady pace maybe it’s time to try some different tactics.
Here are the basics behind popular types of long runs:
LSD or long slow distance: LSD is the most common type of long run, and it’s the best choice for beginners, runners who are returning from injury, and those without time goals. The point of LSD runs is clocking time on your feet. In this workout, you run each mile a full 1-2 minutes slower than goal race pace. Experts say it’s best to run LSD runs by time and not distance to prevent fatigue and poor form. Increase your LSD run by 10-15 minutes each week.
Long run with middle miles at goal race pace: More advanced runners can add more intense training by running several long runs with the middle miles at goal marathon pace. Come race day, you’ll find it easier to dial into your goal pace. If you’re running a 20-miler, warm up slowly for 3 miles, run 12 miles at goal marathon pace, and cool down for the final 3 miles.
Fast finish long runs: There’s nothing worse than hitting the wall in a half or full marathon. This can happen for many reasons, but one of the most common mistakes runners make is starting a race out too fast. If you go out too quickly in the beginning, there’s a good chance you’ll pay for it in later miles.
The fast finish long run teaches you how to prevent this. Say you’re running a 14- to 18-miler. You’d run the first 8-11 miles at an easy pace then gradually pick up the pace for the final 3-10 miles. Each mile should be faster than the last. Doing this type of long run prepares you to push the pace at the end of the race when it really hurts.
It’s not a good idea for all of your long runs to include fast miles. That’s essentially the same as racing every weekend, and you could wind up injured and burnt out. You should only run goal race pace or fast finish long runs every other or every few weeks. Weeks in between should be LSD runs so your legs have adequate time to recover.
No matter what distance is ahead of you, having a plan is the key to your success.
What is your plan for this weekend’s long run? Remember that if you’re just getting into running or returning from an injury, long run might mean a shorter distance, but it’s still long to you. Don’t let anyone else’s version of their long run take the wind out of your sails. Make your plan and go out and get that runner’s high!
See below for how to videos for Plank Challenge Day 6 & 7 “How to” videos
Remember that these days can easily be switched up depending on your schedule and lifestyle. Maybe you go long on Sunday and take Saturday as a rest day. Up to you…but once again, make a plan and stick to it.
And don’t skip your stretches! We all know that stretching is important and take a few extra minutes to stretch, roll, and ice any tight, sore spots could mean the difference in how you feel the following week. Take a look at our 7 Key Stretches for Runners or our Yoga for RunnersYoga for RunnersYoga for Runners and take your time working through each move.
Day 6 Plank Challenge: High Plank with Shoulder Taps
Day 7 Plank Challenge: Plank Up & Downs
Broken record here…but let’s chat once again about post run necessities. Once we get done with our long run, we still have a little work to do, but don’t worry, it’s easy and feel good stuff that will help ensure proper recovery and the ability to walk the next day without pain and stiffness.
This post run checklist is a great tool for getting it all done. Without a list, that post long run fog brain will talk you into sitting down…and not getting back up again for hours. Take a screen shot of this checklist and keep it handy.
That’s all Crew! Hope you’re getting lots of rest and have your plan ready for the weekend. It’s still really hot out there so plan your hydration well and make it fabulous! 🙂