Things work out in the Long Run! True for life and true for training. The LONG RUN is essential for all runners who set out to run distances from 5km to 42.2km (and beyond!). This run is key to half marathon and marathon training.
The Long Run is where you increase your endurance. This is the run that builds consistently over time; with a steady, systematic approach, the long run will build your endurance and strength. Done well, you will not get injured and you will reap the benefits of increased stamina, for your overall fitness and for your target race, if you have one!
How To Get the Most out of the LONG RUN:
Choose a day that you will dedicate weekly to the Long Run. For most of us, the long run should be approximately 30% of our weekly mileage. If you run 20km per week for example, your long run will be approx. 6km. If you run 50km in a week, your long run will be 15km. This is your starting point today.
You should be increasing the length of your Long Run weekly as you build up to your race. Use the 10% rule to increase your distance. Build by 10% for three weeks, and maintain for the fourth week (no increase) to allow your body to adjust to the stress. On week 5, build your distance once again. For all distances, except for the marathon (and ultras), the long run should build up to slightly longer than your target race. This will prepare you both physiologically and mentally. Your body will already ‘know’ the distance, and on race day you will be able to go faster and harder over a distance that you are already very familiar with. Mentally you will know that you can run the full race distance, since you’ve already done it. Whether you are running your first 5km race or your first 30km race (Around the Bay!) you will be ready for that distance.
For the marathon distance, most experts suggest a maximum of approximately 36km or 2.5 hours of training. Most runners do not go over the marathon distance in training. It is simply too taxing on the body, and most runners reserve that full 42.2km distance solely for race day. If you feel you must do the full distance for your mental strength, do it slowly and several weeks before the marathon to allow your body to fully recover.
Determining Your Long Run Pace:
The long run is done at an easy pace. Once you have built up your stamina, some long runs can have marathon pace and tempo paces added in. (This will be covered in a later article) To start, however, focus on running longer and keeping the pace EASY. If you have a recent race time, use this in the VDOT calculator and it will determine your ideal training paces – Easy Pace, Tempo Pace, Interval Pace times for different distances. For the long run, stick with your easy pace. At the start of your run, it may feel too easy, but by the end of your long run you will be thankful you started slow, and (this is the key) you will have maintained a steady pace. The goal is to not slow down, but to maintain the same pace throughout the whole run. If you are feeling great near the end of your long run, you can always pick up the pace for the last few kilometers.
Use this calculator below. Enter the distance of your race in the first column and then your final time. Press calculate and you will be given your ideal training times for different types of training. For Long Runs use the EASY PACE:
As your runs progress over an hour in length, it becomes essential to start refueling during your run. Water can be taken during all runs and it is essential for runs in the heat and of longer duration. Along with water, simple sugars in easily accessible forms are necessary as you run for longer distances. Sports drinks, gels, chew candies are great for long runs, and need to be practiced in training, to determine what your body can handle. Most gels are approx. 100 cal. Take one approx. every 30 min once your runs are up to an hour, along with water. With practice you will determine whether you prefer sports drinks and fewer gels, or if you prefer to stick with water and take more frequent gels or chews. Experiment with different combinations and figure out what works best for you and what your taste buds prefer!
Have Fun on the Long Run
The long run is ideally run with a group. Conversation is easy and the company keeps you going. The long run can be a great time of socializing along with your fitness training. Run new routes and explore your city.
The long run just may become a highlight of your week!