There are many benefits that come with a having consistent long run in our training arsenal. Most runners would like to be faster, especially at the shorter distances. The speed we need is built upon a solid foundation of endurance so our speed won’t be fully realized until we conquer the long run. For that reason, getting in a longer 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 3-5 miles. For others, it might be 15+ miles. It depends on your goals, your fitness level and your 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. Some long runs are shorter than others. We don’t have to run double digits every weekend to get in our long run. Consider running for time rather than miles on the weekend. So if you run for 30-45 a couple times a week, your long run can be 60-70 minutes. If you for an hour a couple times a week, go for 90 minutes on Saturday or Sunday.
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 an important part of our training plan. But no matter if you’re training for a fast 1 mile race, or an ultra marathon, your long run should be on your calendar every week.
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 the weekend and for most of us, that means it’s time for long runs! Are you ready to lace up and get moving? Do you have a plan and maybe some friends to run with? Or maybe you’re racing like Amanda King at her favorite half in Michigan? Go Amanda! Tell us your plans so we can cheer you on!
Remember this schedule is just a guideline on some best practices but the days can move around to fit in with your schedule and family life. If you run long on Sunday then just make sure you do some active recovery on Monday.
Day 7 exercises: 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 8 exercises: Active Recovery
- :60 Plank
- :60 Wall Sit
- Active Recovery – Short run, walk, bike ride, swim, playing outside with the kids
- Yoga for Runners – links below