The long run is the cornerstone of most runner’s training plan. Mallow hold their long runs on a Sunday meeting at the Annabella roundabout at 9 am and have been doing so for many years now. For many runners the long run is the highlight of the running week as they are run at a relaxed , conversational pace with the emphasis on affirmation and having the craic. From this writer’s point of view I always enjoyed the long run not just for the reason’s mentioned above but it was a great way to see the countryside in a way not always possible in a car or even a bike. One would actually feel more refreshed after a long run than tired it energised rather than depleted one’s energy reserves setting you up for the day.
It doesn’t matter if you are training for a marathon , half marathon, a ten mile race a 10 k or even if not training for anything in particular a long run should be on every runners schedule. A long run is usually a distance of double figures (10 miles to 22 miles) or time on your feet for around 90 minutes. In terms of exertion the pace should always be conversational and relaxed. In terms of heart rate effort you should be running at no more than 70 % of your heart rate reserve or in terms of pace you should be running around a minute to 90 seconds slower than your tempo pace. If your tempo pace is 8.30 per mile your long run pace should be around 9.30 to 10 minutes per mile. If your tempo pace is 7 minutes then your long run should be at around 8 minute to 8.30 pace. Remember a long run is not a speed session the objective is to spend time on your feet.
From a physiological point of view the point of a long slow run is to strengthen your heart and lungs and to get your body used to simply running. You are providing a underlying base to your fitness and getting your legs used to spending time on your feet. It is said that if you run your long runs at the correct pace you should be able to easily increase your long run nearly every week. From a mental point of view you are equipping yourself with the mental tools required to get through a race in particular the endurance based distances of 10 miles and upwards where lactate tolerance will be severely tested.
Nevertheless a word of caution in regard to long runs. Increase the distance of your long runs incrementally. It’s probably best to follow the 10 % rule and assess your long run in terms of your overall mileage for the week. Therefore if you are running 30 miles a week with a long run of 13 weeks you really shouldn’t be increasing your overall mileage by no more than 3 miles and your long run by no more than 1 -2 miles. In fact it is recommended to have a cutback long run every third week to avoid injury and burnout. Therefore a runner might be running long runs of 10 miles in week 1 and 11 miles in week 2 but to allow for the body to rest, adapt and recover the runner might run only 7 miles in week 3 before running 12 or 13 miles in week 4. It also pays to vary the route every couple of weeks or so , find routes with hills, flats , steep climbs, trail, city and country routes. If running a long run, be it with a group or solo, always adopt sensible safety precautions and always hydrate during and after the run. Most importantly though enjoy the long run and get to know your clubmates. After all if you are on your feet for 90 minutes to over 3 hours you might as well enjoy it !!!
Article credit to Cathal Daly