How to Train: The Long Run
Weekly long runs are one of the most important components of training for a half or full marathon. The key to the long runs is that they are progressive in nature to slowly build your endurance. They also need to be slower, which is relative to individual fitness, so that you can continue training without adding the risk of injury. You can decrease your risk for developing a running injury by following some basic long run principles.
First, follow a program that builds in length for three weeks and then has a recovery week. Typical weekly increases follow the 10% rule or add 1 to 2 miles per week.
A common mistake with the weekly long runs is to run them too fast. This is not the time to try to run the pace you are hoping to during the race. Although it may be comforting to know you can keep hopeful race pace during the longer runs it can put you at risk for an overuse injury. If you run too quickly during the long runs every week, you will not have enough recovery afterward to continue training through the week. Work on speed with shorter tempo runs, or intervals at the track. Calculate your long slow run to be 1-2 minutes slower per mile than anticipated race pace.
The weekly long slow runs are a great time to work on hydration and fueling for the race. Start trying different electrolyte mixes in your hydration vest or handheld water bottles. There are also plenty of fuel based products to look into(caffeinated energy gels are one of my favorites) and some runners do well with energy blocks and bars. You will always want to see how it affects your body before race day, so experiment during the long runs.
Other tips that I have learned over the years:
- Run in the clothing you are planning to wear for the race
- Anti-chafing products can be great for high friction areas (inner thighs, armpits, bra straps, nipples)
- To fight boredom, try running these with a running buddy, or try a book on tape or podcasts
- Choose areas that you find enjoyable to run that mimic the race course
- Long, slow runs are at the heart of half and full marathon training, and essential to ensuring your body will be adequately trained for finishing the race
- Running can be a bit uncomfortable at times, and make sure to see your doctor if pain to one location continues for 2 weeks and/or affects your training