Days 3 & 4: Go Long!

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Whether you’re training for a 5K or 10K…or have an upcoming Half or Full Marathon, you should have a long run in your weekly plan. Long might mean something a little different to each of us…but a long run is an important part of every runners training program.

While the Runner’s World story “Why Non-Marathoners Still Need Long Runs: Long runs help you race better at any distance” might be referring to elite runners, we can all apply it to our own training in smaller ways.

In November of 1961, legendary coach Arthur Lydiard told the 1960 800m gold medalist, Peter Snell, to go run a marathon. Before that, Lydiard had Snell incorporating the Waiatarua circuit, a grueling, 22-mile long run up and down the Waitakere Ranges in New Zealand, as part of his 100-mile training week. What was a man who would race for less than 2 minutes doing running for 2 hours? This type of training was completely unheard of for middle-distance runners back in those days.

But it paid off.

Only two months after his Lydiard-mandated marathon, Snell ran a world-record mile (3:54). And in the 1964 Olympics, he won gold in the 800 and 1500m events.

The long run has been popular ever since.

Why is this? What are the physiological changes long runs produce that are beneficial to someone who is racing for a short period of time? According to Running Times columnist and coach, Greg McMillan, there are three key physiological adaptations that occur in the body during a long run: enzymatic, capillary and musculoskeletal.

When you run long, you increase enzymes in your muscle cells and grow capillaries, which are the small vessels that surround the cells. These important changes allow more oxygen to be delivered to working muscles.

You also strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments. “These adaptations help you in shorter races like the 5K because it’s still primarily an aerobic activity,” McMillan says. “The more oxygen that you can deliver to the working muscles, the better your performance will be. And the stronger your muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments become, the more you are capable to conduct better race-specific training like intervals.”

So how far is far enough? According to Arthur McMillan, for non-marathoners, the right long-run length “depends where you are in your running career.” For someone not accustomed to running long, he advises working up to 90 minutes to properly stimulate the body’s adaptations. McMillan then suggests that athletes increase the duration of their long runs up to 2-3 hours.

Rubio has an alternative approach. Instead of prescribing a minimum time limit, he breaks out the long run using percentages of weekly mileage. At first he has runners run long using 20 to 25 percent of weekly mileage at an easy pace. He has them alternate other long runs using approximately 15 percent of weekly mileage preferably on a hilly course. Progression is key.

The take away…both Rubio and McMillan agree that runners training for shorter distance events still need long runs.

Beginning runners should follow these guidelines, even if they are working towards a 5K or 10K race and not a half or full marathon.

  • 15 miles/week = 3.75 mile long run
  • 20 miles/week = 5 mile long run
  • 25 miles/week = 6.25 mile long run
  • 30 miles/week = 7.5 mile long run

If you’re comfortable with a half marathon distance (13.1 miles) and just want to maintain your fitness and be ready to run a half marathon on short notice (maybe not run your best time but be able to finish without too much discomfort) your long run should be 8-12 miles. Besides maintaining your fitness, these long runs will give you all the benefits: increase muscle and capillary growth, allow more oxygen to your working muscles (allowing shorter runs to become easier), and to strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments.

5K specialist Chris Solinsky goes as long as 2 hours for his long runs. You might think this sounds crazy or counter productive…but Solinsky says, “[The long run] teaches your body to be efficient. Before I did long runs, when I was in high school, I was a lot less efficient than I am now. The long runs groom your body into running as effortlessly as possible.”

So what is your long run plan? Going out Saturday or Sunday?

Whatever day we don’t go long is a planned rest day but it’s still important to stretch! Oh…and don’t forget that one :60 plank on our long run and rest day!

Day 3 Exercises: Long Run + 7 Key Stretch for Runners + :60 Plank (Your Choice) 

Day 4 Exercises: One :60 Plank (Your Choice) + 7 Key Stretches for Runners + Rest! 

Even if you have no races in the works…the long run is addicting. The feelings after finishing your long run…empty, clean, worn out, sweat purged…the good ache of muscles that have done you proud…that feeling is worth every early weekend morning.

Eat a good dinner, hydrate, go to bed early…then get up and purge yourself of all the stress built up during the week. Go long Crew! 🙂

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Days 13 & 14: I Run Because I Can

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 5.10.56 PMRain or shine you are piling up the miles, getting ready for the next. But your performance doesn’t seem to be improving, maybe you’re even going backwards, or the fear of injury is creeping in.

Consider the difference between training for running and conditioning for running. Training is the daily run itself; conditioning is about preparing for those runs.

When you are “conditioned” for running, you are prepared for the demand all those miles put on your body. The reality is most runners spend their time training, believing that running alone is the key to running better. But staying in the best running shape means understanding the demands running places on your body and meeting them with a conditioning program.

There are lots of running myths out there, but these two line up well with our long run / rest day weekend routine.

Myth: Stretch alone is enough

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I know I harp a lot on stretching, but this is a great point to consider as well. I’ve started foam rolling and using a small hand help massager on my legs several times a week. This has made a big difference in the knee pain I’ve experienced lately. Loosening up the muscles that connect all those lower body parts allows my knees to move more freely, to handle the impact more efficiently, and helps prevent inflammation.

Running is a high impact exercise which causes two and a half times your bodyweight to crash into the ground. The impact is absorbed by our muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, fascia, etc. These soft tissues can only take the shock when there is an adequate range of motion available at the joint being impacted. In other words, if your joints can’t move freely, the impact can cause injury.

Action Plan: Stretch, roll, & move. Stretch your quads, calves, hamstrings, IT Band, and back. Our 7 Key Stretches for Runners are the perfect combination to hit all these important muscles. Roll your legs, butt, and back. Start with your calves and work your way up. Hit your IT Band (outside of your knee), move up to your quads and hamstrings, then keep moving up over your butt and to your back. It hurts…but once you get used to it…it hurts so good.

Myth: Recovery is as simple as taking a day off.

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The term “recovery” is often confused withrest, taking complete time off of from movement or activity. While it is important to have “off” days, active recovery plays a key role in maintaining a healthy and effective running game. Scheduled rest days are great, but true healing, nourishment, and recovery actually come from movement, not rest alone. Your muscles work super hard to keep you pounding the pavement and if these intense muscular contractions are not properly balanced with a solid, restorative routine, possible injury becomes probably injury, and you’re in for sore and stiff muscles days after your long run.

Action Plan: In addition to stretching and rolling…you gotta move. Active recovery is less intense and has less volume so plan a short, easy recovery run the day after your long run. When I say short, I mean short. 30-40 minutes tops. And EASY…no sprinting, no technical trails, no watching your mile times. Just go and shake out and loosen up your muscles. If you don’t want to run, cross train…but keep it short and easy as well. Go for an easy bike ride, go swimming, take a nice brisk walk, go to a yoga class or check out our Yoga for Runners. This active recovery will go a long way in helping you walk pain free in the coming days and will keep your head in the right place for your next long run.

What will your active rest day look like? Remember that you can switch up these days to make it work for your lifestyle and schedule but if you go long on Sunday…make Monday an active recovery day. Don’t just go to work and sit down all day. Make time in the morning to get moving before you start the rest of your day.

Day 13 exercises: Long Run + 7 Key Stretches for Runners + High Plank Knee to Opposite Elbow

Plank Challenge Day 13 – High Plank Knee to Opposite Elbow

Day 14 exercises: Active Recovery + 7 Key Stretches for Runners or Yoga for Runners + Low Plank Knee to Same Side Elbow (Calendar has incorrect plank. Watch how to do the correct plank below)

Plank Challenge Day 14 – Low Plank Knee to Same Side Elbow

Bonus: Ab & Squat Challenge – Day 13

  • 5 Sit Ups
  • 5 Crunches
  • 5 Squats

Ab & Squat Challenge – Day 14

  • 10 Sit Ups
  • 10 Crunches
  • 10 Squats

So this weekend…long run, stretchesyoga, planks, ab & squat challenge and active recovery. Questions? Reach out to your fellow Crew members in Strong to the Core or send me a private message.

If you’re thinking about skipping your long run or giving up before you’re done….remember those who can’t run, what they would give to have this simple gift we take for granted….and run harder for them. They would do it for you.

I run because I can

Day 14 & 15: Long Run + Rest + Fun!

Runner problemsNo matter what you are doing this weekend…find time to fit in your long run.

Whether you’re a recreational runner or a hard-core marathoner, the long run is the backbone of any successful training program.

Here’s a few tips to help you get through your long runs feeling good.

  1. Follow your long run with a recovery day of very easy running, cross-training, or rest.
  2. Start your long run well hydrated and consume sports drinks and gels en route. This is excellent practice for the marathon and will keep you from getting overly fatigued.
  3. Limit your long run to 1:45 or less (unless you’re training for a marathon–see number 5, below).
  4. Consume 3 to 4 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight daily to make sure carbo stores stay loaded.
  5. Alternate long runs with very long runs when training for a marathon.
  6. Run with someone of comparable ability. Otherwise your long run may turn into a tempo run or a Sunday stroll.
  7. Ease back into training if you’ve missed a long run due to illness or injury. Going long as soon as you feel better can overtax an already battered immune system. Instead, do half or three-quarters of your scheduled long-run distance, then resume your normal schedule the following week.

I love tip #1. Resting after a long run is very important…but “rest” doesn’t mean you can’t run or be active. The day after a long run you can still go out and log some miles…just keep it short and easy. Don’t push pace and don’t stay out too long. If you don’t feel like running, do some cross training but once again…make it an easy workout. No matter what you do…don’t sit around eating everything in sight and not moving. Stay active!

Day 14 exercises: Long Run + Planks (Regular & Side Plank) + 7 Key Stretches for Runners

Day 15 exercises: Plank (Regular & Side Plank) + Rest

Remember you can always switch up these days to make them work for you and your schedule. Nothing is ever set in stone. Make it work for you and your family.

The weekend should be fun…a time to recharge for the upcoming week. Find time get in your long run…and spend quality time with your loved ones. Plan ahead to make sure you are balancing life at home with your fitness goals. Life is all about balance…you deserve “you” time but you also need to so make sure you spend quality time with the ones you love. Planning is key.

Make it a great weekend Core Crew! 🙂

I Run Every Day