Time for our favorite workout of the week…our long run!
This weekend instead of doing the same old boring long run, let’s throw in some fun stuff.
“Stuff” refers to adding strides, surges, pickups or progressions to the typical easy or steady long run. The goal in adding these components is to change the stimulus for adaptation ever so slightly. By adding in some faster running toward the end of the long run, you force recruitment of muscle fibers that generally are never trained at an easy or steady pace. By slightly changing which muscle fibers are recruited, you now train those harder-to-recruit fast twitch-type fibers under aerobic conditions, therefore increasing their endurance.
Strides and surges are two easy ways to get a little more bang for your buck during the long run without adding much undue fatigue. They both work by changing the muscle fiber recruitment slightly, and can prevent the post-long run flatness that often occurs. This happens because the faster segments change the tension in the muscles and leave you with some “pop” in your legs instead of staleness.
Strides should be done immediately after the completion of the long run and should include four to ten by 100-meter runs in length at about your 10K race pace. This should be seen as an introductory session, which then progresses to surges over the following weeks.
Surges should be done during the last 3-4 miles of the long run and should include segments where you pick it up to around 10K race pace and then back off to your easy pace for a short segment. I recommend starting with 5 x 30-second surges with two minutes of easy running between reps and work your way up progressively to where you’re doing 8-10 x 45 to 60-second surges with 2-3 minutes recovery in between. This should not be a taxing workout, but instead a comfortable surge that lets the legs loosen up a little bit.
Pickups and progressions are two slightly more challenging options for adding some spice to your long run. The goal of these runs is to press the pace down so that the body gets used to increasing speed, increasing the aerobic demand, and recruiting muscle fibers when glycogen levels are getting progressively lower at the end of the long run. Once again, we are looking at training muscle fibers that aren’t normally trained aerobically and triggering the body to become more efficient with using up its glycogen stores.
Pickups should be introduced in small doses. Start by picking up the pace to marathon race effort or slightly faster during the last 5 minutes of your long run. Every few weeks, increase the length of the pickup by 5 minutes until you get to the point where the last 20 minutes of your long run is done at a quicker pace.
Progression long runs, on the other hand, should take a gradual approach. Instead of spending the last bit of your long run making a sudden change in speed, spread that speed increase out over a longer distance. Start with a gradual progression over the last quarter of your long run (the last 4 miles of a 16 mile run, for example) and increase that until the last half of your long run is spent gradually ratcheting down the speed. The goal is the same: get down to just faster than marathon race pace by the end of the run.
Progression runs sound very similar to negative spits, but there is a difference. Negative splits refers to your time coming down a little bit each mile. A progression run is where your time stays very similar during the first part of your run and then you choose a point where you pick up the speed and hold that pace over the last portion of your run.
What type of run will you choose this weekend?
Remember these different long runs are not just for distances over 10 miles. You can do these types of workouts with any mileage…just make a conscious choice before you start and add it in as you go. If you’re doing a 3-5 mile long run and want to do a progression run, do the first 1.5-2.5 miles at a slower pace then pick up the pace and hold it for the last 1.5-2.5 miles. If you’re thinking pickups, for the last 5-10 minutes of your run, pick up your pace to the pace you want to run at your next race.
The whole point here is to start taxing your body a little each long run so it starts to get easier and more comfortable. This way, when it’s time to race, you’re ready to hold that faster pace.
Whatever you decide, make a plan before you head out. Having a plan is very important to ensuring you know what to do, how to do, and are successful following through.
Day 10 exercises: Long Run + 7 Key Stretches for Runners + Plank – Your Choice (:45 2X)
Day 11 exercises: Arms/Back – 3 sets of 10
- Bicep Curls 21s (3 sets of 21)
- Wide Rows
- Plank – Your Choice (:45 2X)
Bonus: Active Recovery and/or Yoga for Runners – use today’s bonus to get you moving and stretching out your muscles after your long run. Go for a short easy run (30 min or less), or chill out and go through our Yoga for Runners at home. Either way, an active recovery will help with post-run soreness and stiffness.
Racery: Don’t forget to keep logging your Racery miles. Click here for the Racery page to log your miles and see how your team is doing.
Current team standings:
Before you go…I want you to make a decision on what kind of “stuff” you’re adding to your long run. Post it in Strong to the Core under this pinned post so we can keep you accountable and cheer you on!
Have a fabulous weekend and get ready to go the distance Crew! 🙂