Going for a long run in London.
A long run is a key ingredient to any successful endurance running program. Many runners are embarking on Marathon training plans in the lead up to Spring marathons or half marathon’s so here is some key information to help you along the way.
Why do we run long?
The long run conditions your body to spend large amounts of time on your feet and encourages the body to become far more efficient at burning fat, the primary fuel source after natural glycogen stores are used up. The legs become stronger and more resistant to fatigue and the body copes with lower blood sugar levels.
We also run long to improve our economy, so the energy we use at a constant pace becomes less.
How do we run long?
There are 2 main types of long run. The first is the steady pace long run, which is exactly what it says on the tin. The ultimate aim of this run is to get out on your run at a comfortable pace where the ultimate goal is time on your feet and not pace.
We know that carbohydrate stores are sufficiently lowered after 90-120 minutes of running so the magic zone where the physiological changes have the most effect is after this period. The goal is to get 30-60 minutes of running in after this to hit that golden period, thereby adapting the muscles to store more glycogen for future runs/races.
The second type of long run is the fast finish run. The aim of this run is to spend the last 30-90 minutes at goal marathon pace after gradually fatiguing the muscles over the first part of the run.
So, a generic long run for someone who’s goal marathon pace is 8:00 per mile might be that the first 12 miles of a long run will be at 8:30 to 9:00 per mile, then the pace over the last 6 miles will average 8:00 per mile with the last couple of miles at 7:15 to 7:30 pace and the last 400 meters very fast. Believe me, this is a tough run so you will need to get mentally and physically prepared.
When to use each type;
The steady pace long run should be used all year round to keep your base levels of endurance high. You may want to lower the time on your feet outside of specific training phases but ultimately this is a staple part of any endurance program.
The fast finish long run should only be used in a specific marathon or half marathon build up phase as too many of these will peak you too early and make you go stale for race day. Usually a good rule of thumb is to alternate a long steady run and a fast finish long run on alternate weeks in the last 12-16 weeks of marathon training.
Building distance too quickly (never increase by more than 10% per week)
Running too fast in your long steady runs (Pace should be conversational)
Not taking on enough carbs before fast finish runs (Fast finish runs need fuel)
Too much sugar (Upset tummy, hyperglycemia)
Running through injury
Not running long enough (Too many runners don’t train over 2 hours and expect to race for 4!)
Ultimately listen to your body and be patient.
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