There are so many benefits that come with a having consistent long run in our training arsenal. One that many of us are longing for, speed, which is built upon a solid foundation of endurance, won’t be fully realized until we conquer the long run. For that reason, getting in a “long run” consistently (every week) is one of the most effective training strategies for getting faster!
But what exactly is a “long run?”
A long run is the longest run of the week. For some runners, that might be 4-5 miles. For others, it might be 20-22 miles. It depends on your training, goals, ability, and willingness to surrender a chunk of time to running.
No matter what type of runner (newbie, mid range distance, marathoner, trail runner, or veteran with a long history of miles logged), the long run is still a staple workout.
You shouldn’t be surprised that I think EVERY runner should get in a long run almost every week.
So what are these numerous benefits to running long?
- Create denser capillary networks – With more capillaries surrounding your hard-working muscles, your body can deliver more oxygen and work harder.
- Build resiliency and mental toughness – Particularly for long races of half marathon or beyond, the long run is the most specific mental preparation you’ll get before the race. Psychological fatigue is real!
- Improve mechanics – The long run helps us make our running form more efficient. Muscles learn through practice and your stride will improve through consistent long runs.
- Increase the efficiency of fuel – LR’s teach the body to use a higher percentage of fat as fuel rather than stored glycogen, while also teaching the body to store more glycogen
- Build stronger muscles. Running for prolonged periods increases the strength of the leg muscles and connective tissues, but also those of the respiratory system.
- Makes us faster! – With more endurance you’ll be able to hold a certain pace for a longer period of time.
Distance runners should view the long run as one of the big things to focus on in our training plan. No matter if you’re training for a fast 1 mile race, or an ultra marathon, your long run should on your calendar every week! Sometimes we “fall back” to a shorter long run to give ourselves a chance to recover, but even on our fall back week our long run will normally be longer than our mid week miles.
So Amy, you’re telling me that if I’m training for a miler or a 5K, or just running for fitness, I still need to run long? YES!
Consider this, Nick Willis, a world class miler and Olympic medalist in the 1500 meters (.93 mile) averages about 20 miles for his long run each week. Recently he said,
“My best piece of coaching advice… is to get your long run in every week. People are always trying to challenge that and come up with new ideas but I’ve always felt I needed to stick to this tradition.
It has carried me through even when I have been doubtful about some other training mechanisms I’ve had. The long run has proved the tried and trusted piece of the puzzle.”
It’s time for that almighty long run! Are you ready to lace up and get moving? Let’s do this Crew! What are your long run plans? Anyone racing this weekend? Tell us about it so we can cheer you on!
Day 20 exercises: The Long Run
- Pre-run Warm up – Hip Hurdles, Leg Swings & Lunge Matrix
- Long Run
- :60 Plank
- :60 Wall Sit
- Legs up the Wall (5-15 minutes)
- Stretch! – 7 Key Stretches for Runners
Day 21 exercises:
- :60 Plank
- :60 Wall Sit
- Active Recovery – Short run, walk, bike ride, swim, playing outside with the kids
- Yoga for Runners – links below