Long runs are the most important and efficient workouts you can do if you want to improve your fitness and endurance level and mental strength. Long runs are a bit more complex to plan and organize the right way. To train short distances at faster pace, do some speedwork and tempo runs is also necessary for proper training, but adding weekly proper long runs to your training plan will have even more benefits.
Benefits of Performing Long Runs
Strengthen the heart.
Open up capillaries, speeding energy into working muscles, and flush away all the waste from the tired muscles.
Strengthen leg muscles and ligaments.
Activate fast-twitch muscle fibers to assist slow-twitch muscle function.
Help burn fat as fuel.
Boost your confidence. Running long-distance runs weekly, gives you more confidence and mental strength.
Will increase your speed, strength and endurance.
How Long Should You Run?
Two general rules you can follow to adapt the long run to your current training plan are beneficial.
1. Time is more important than the distance- The quality time spent on your feet will have more benefits than only focusing on the distance. According to your longest run, building up your long run gradually by adding 15 mins to your weekly long run will help increase your endurance without causing any issues. For shorter distance runners (half-marathon or less) building up to 2 hours for your long run is adequate, for longer distance runners (full-marathon) 3 1/2 hours will be enough running time to create the perfect long run training plan. For ultra-runners, a 4-5 hour run with good elevation can be a great training session to support long-distance races. Also, to use some long-distance races (half-marathon, marathon, 50K race) can help train for your targeted long-distance race.
2. Adjusting the duration of your long run according to your age, fitness, and your target distance race your training for, should be part of your training plan. For older runners or lower level of fitness, to slowly increase the running time and distance is important to support the energy level, injury prevention, and overall health.
Pace Strategy for Long Runs
Running long-distance runs at an easier pace is a lot more efficient for training. Runners that run their weekly long runs at their marathon speed can eventually get injuries.
1. Long runs at race pace can be training sessions, but that’s a race to your body, which can lead to overtraining, injury or illness. There’s no benefits of pushing too hard for each long run, follow a pace that is comfortable.
2. Long runs are for endurance, they quickly reduce your resting heart rate, making your heart more efficient.
3. The ideal pace for your long runs, should be 30-40 secs per kilometers slower than your marathon pace. The intensity of effort should be low, and you should maintain a steady comfortable pace. You should be able to have a conversation while running your long run. If you start feeling very fatigued, you can slow your pace for a few kilometers. For more fit and strong runners including elite runners, to add a monthly faster pace long run can be a good part of your training plan.
How Many Long Runs?
1. One weekly long run should be part of the training plan. For runners with daily runs in their training plan, once per week is enough for a productive training strategy. Make sure you add a recovery day after the long run. For runners who run only 2 runs during the week, another good training option is to add two long runs back to back, which is also very efficient for ultra-runners.
2. Getting used to long runs can be challenging for some runners, they can find it boring, not motivating, so mentally their brain wants to stop after a while. To find some friends or running groups that are training for similar distances can be very helpful. You can organize weekly long runs with some running partners which will help to motivate yourself to start and keep running in a nice atmosphere, and the time will fly by.
3. Focus on your running distance according to your training goal. But to add a weekly long run to your running schedule, even if you don’t have an upcoming race will help improve your fitness level, health, build up your muscles, and make you brain much happierJ
4. Even when our races are cancelled or rescheduled, we should still run a weekly long-distance run to keep training or even run our race course and distance unofficially with some friends. That will keep us so motivated so we don’t give up and lose some fitness level.
Run Long, Train Well, Run Strong!