Every runner knows how important the long run is to their training plan. And even though I have only been running for the last 3 years I still have learned a lot about the importance of the long run.
So here are the 5 lessons I have learned in the long run.
1. Run Slow
The whole purpose of a long run is to get endurance into your legs.
Many runners make the mistake of going too fast in their long runs (I know I have).
Your long run should be SLOW. This means your long slow run should be anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds slower than your 5km/10km/Half/Full Marathon pace*.
2. Run for Time, not Distance
Most training plans out there will have your long run at a set distance. For example, run 10km or 15km.
That’s all well and good, but it’s only been in the last 18 months that I have discovered that running for time works better for me than for a set distance.
No two long-run days are going to be the same.
I remember one time I went out for my 14km long run, and I felt awful. It was hot & humid. I ended up drinking all my water and eating all my fuel. I was tired and just felt seriously crappy, and guess what my time reflected that.
A week later I did the same 14km track. I ran it 10 minutes faster, only had half of one of the water bottles I was carrying, and only consumed 1 gu gel.
Even though it was the same track, I still had a completely different experience.
3. Run a There & Back
To be honest I never really liked there and backs. That was until I discovered the value of running a ‘There & Back’ track.
Previously most of my long runs used to be giant loops or a series of smaller loops. That was back in the days when I use to run distance.
Before my long runs were set to time, I use to map my runs out with Google Maps to work out a rough distance.
The only problem with this is manual mapping can be inaccurate. Believe me, I’ve been caught out thinking oh yeah this is 12km, only to find out that what I thought was a track wasn’t a track, and my long 12km run blew out to 15km.
Now that my long runs are set on TIME, I will run my there and back for half of my set time, then turn around and run back.
For example. If my long run is 60 minutes. I will run for 30 minutes on my ‘there and back track, turn around and run back home.
4. Run a Negative Split
The advantage of running a ‘There and Back’ and running for a set time is that I will naturally gravitate to run a negative split.
We have all fallen victim to running a race too fast at the start and then blowing out at the end.
This is a common mistake, but with practice and discipline, it is possible to run a negative split.
This is why running for time and there and back can seriously enhance you running a negative split. Why? Well, you are already familiar with the track, and you can slowly increase your pace to run that second half faster.
This can be broken into three parts.
Listening to music helps pass the time. You can escape and flow with the rhythm and beat. A pumping playlist of all your favourite tunes is a must.
Audiobooks and podcasts are another great alternative. You can be totally consumed by the story that is being told.
Lastly, it’s also important to listen to your surroundings. Appreciate your environment. Be attuned to your body. You will discover many things about yourself because you took the time to listen.
* – Your time will vary depending on your goal distance
Is your long run a loop, there and back or laps?
What’s your favourite long run track?
Are you training for anything at the moment?