A long run in running is an extended effort designed to increase endurance. It is a cornerstone of any runner's training plan and is essential for building up mileage and preparing for race day. The long run should be a staple of every runner's plan, and it should be tailored to the runner's current fitness level and running goals. Most coaches suggest long runs cover one-and-a-half to two times the distance of what you consider a normal-length run.
The long run trains the body to become more efficient, and it helps increase the heart's ability to pump higher amounts of blood with each stroke, which improves cardiovascular efficiency. The long run also helps increase the number of mitochondria and capillaries in muscle cells, which increases aerobic capacity and strengthens the musculoskeletal system.
The long run should be done at a relaxed pace, one that can be maintained for the duration of the run, and it should be the longest run done in a week. The long run is an essential training element for meeting endurance goals, whether training for a marathon or half marathon or building endurance for life.
A long run is a key training method for runners, especially those preparing for marathons or half-marathons. It's about running a distance longer than your usual workouts, typically once a week.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LONG RUNS
- Distance Varies: What counts as a long run depends on your experience. For beginners, it might be around 5 miles; for seasoned runners, it could exceed 20 miles. It generally means running for over 90 minutes.
- Building Endurance: Long runs boost both cardiovascular and muscular endurance and improve your running efficiency.
- Mental Toughness: These runs aren't just physically demanding; they also test your mental strength. You'll face boredom, fatigue, and self-doubt, teaching you to handle discomfort and build resilience.
- Pace Strategy: Long runs are usually slower than your average pace. Marathon training involves maintaining a steady, conversational pace, while half-marathon training might include faster tempo sections in the middle of the run.
- Personalized Approach: Tailor your long runs to your fitness level and goals. If you're new to long runs, it's okay to take breaks or incorporate walking. Regular practice will improve your endurance over time.
In summary, long runs are vital for distance runners, enhancing endurance, mental toughness, and perseverance. They should be carefully integrated into your training, considering your fitness and goals.
LONG RUN FAQs
The recommended frequency for long runs in running varies depending on individual goals, training load, and personal preferences. However, some general guidelines can be followed:
- Long Runs as a Percentage of Weekly Mileage: Long runs should typically be between 20-30% of your weekly mileage. For example, if you run 40 miles a week, you might have one long run per week, along with a few intermediate-length runs and some easy recovery runs.
- Number of Days per Week: Many non-elite runners run four to five days a week, making time for strength training and a rest day to avoid injury risk. For half marathon or marathon runners, one to two days may not be enough, and they might benefit from three or more days per week.
- Training Phases and Cycles: Long runs can be done more frequently during base building and strength phases, while speed and peak phases may focus more on interval training and other high-intensity workouts. It's essential to follow an 80/20 and 10% rule, with 80% of miles at easy effort and 20% at medium to hard intensity.
- Back-to-Back Long Runs: Back-to-back long runs can be challenging but can be beneficial for experienced runners training for longer distances. These runs should not be done more than two or three times in a training cycle. A scaled-back version is a medium-long run, which is 75-85% as long as regular long runs and done at a conversational pace.
Ultimately, the ideal running frequency depends on individual goals, training load, and personal preferences. It's essential to listen to your body, adjust your training plan accordingly, and allow for adequate rest and recovery to avoid overtraining and injuries.