I think when we look at our training over the year it can take many forms depending on your goals, but there is always something that you can look forward to. For me, it’s the long run in all its different forms. All of the long runs build strength, they get you use to being on your feet for an extended period of time. The endurance to keep going when your heads telling you to stop. They can be used to focus on different things but they all mean getting out and spending some time on your feet which I like.
1. The fun steady run
The steady run, picking a day where you’ve got nothing planned is best, you don’t what to put a deadline on a steady run. Picking a day with wether that suits is a bonus as well. For me it’s a one way run from home out towards the nearby city, then get a bus or a lift back I’m not a fan of looping back I find it a bit boring rerunning a route. My long steady run from 16-37 kilometres is all done at a low heart rate, I carry a small pack with a spare top, bit of food and water and sometimes a camera it’s just about time on my feet not going to fast and maintaining a consistent pace.
2. Marathon pace run.
This type of run will always be short of my marathon distance, Whether it is full or half. I always use the kit and try food I think I’m going to use on the day, try out different race day clothes shoes and gels. It’s a good run to check your progress and to get your running tuned in to the pace that you will need to run at to achieve your goal for your run. Marathon pace runs are also worth doing at the time of day that the start of the running event is going to be, I think this is an important one for me as most of my training is done in the afternoon and nearly all of the runs im entered in to are in the morning, so its important to have some days getting your legs working when they’re used to sitting and watching the tv…
3. Mix pace long run
A mix pace long run some times called a fartlek (speed play in Swedish) run is as the name would suggest moving at different paces. it can also be a run that could be done on a hilly route, what you do is move through different pace zones so that might mean to run a 3k warm up then 3k half marathon pace then 3k at MAF pace then 2k at 10k pace, 3k at full marathon pace 2k at 5k pace then a cool down. Doing a long run like this helps split up the long run when it might be day im not that motivated, it will get my heart rate moving up and down through the different pace zones, its also good at making me adjust and stick to different paces which is something that is needed to run a good marathon/half matron, what I me by that is your average pace for a run maybe 4.30 but you would start off slow and adjust you pace through the run to end up with an avenge of 4.30 pace, sticking to your paces through a run will help you not run out energy before the end, and by not going to fast. It will help you to keep moving so you don’t end to slow and miss your goal finishing time, paced runs are good practice.
4. Back to back long run
This one is similar to what elite runners would do, they would do “special blocks” which are two long runs in one day. I wouldn’t even think of doing this, I defiantly think id Break something. That being said I do a variation of this, back to back long running , these are hard and I wouldn’t do more the two in a training block. What I do is to do two-runs one longer then the other, so on Saturday I would run a 20k run then on Sunday a 16k run, this can be used to get some training in on fatigued legs, so on the second run I would run at my goal pace to get used to running on tired legs, you can also use this to build up some volume in a training cycle..
I think no matter what long run you do they are an important part of running with lots of positive benefits like:
- Increase your endurance.
- Produce more mitochondria and capillaries in muscle cells.
- Increase in your aerobic capacity.
- Improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system.
- Increase the amount of glycogen stored in your muscles/liver.
- Strengthen the musculoskeletal system.
- Give you greater ability to work through muscular fatigue.
- increase your body’s ability to use fat as fuel.
So with all those benefits, the long run is something im going to continue to do, and try some new routes and new running cycles, I hope you enjoy your long run no matter how long that might be or how you chose to do them…….