The long run is the cornerstone of marathon training. In marathon training it has been found that 3 runs of 18 - 22 miles over the 8 weeks prior to the marathon are an important predictor of completing the marathon. The long run is also an important element for middle distance runners. The 10K runner will benefit from runs of 8 miles, 10 miles and even up to 14 miles or more. A 5K runner will benefit from runs of 6 miles, 8 miles and up to 12 miles or so.
The long run has been emphasized as the building block of training for over 30 years. Arthur Lydiard and many others have made it the base component of training programs for distance runners. All of today's programs including Hal Higdon's and Jeff Galloway's highlight the importance of the long run. Just what magic does the long run do? Long distance aerobic running gives the strength and ground work on which much will be built. Lactate threshold training, speed work, and stamina will all come later, but the ability to run long has many benefits.
VO2 max will increase from running within your aerobic training range. Capillaries will grow, enhancing the blood supply to the muscle fibers. Training increases the number and size of mitochondria. The mitochondria are the aerobic powerhouses of the cell. A variety of key aerobic enzymes will also increase. More myoglobin will be found in the skeletal muscle fibers. The significance of the increase in capillaries and myoglobin are the assistance that this will provide to the part of the VO2 equation specifying the difference in concentration of oxygen in arterial and venous blood, these changes facilitate oxygen transfer into the muscles.
Summary Of Long Run Effects:
Aerobic long runs also predominantly train the Type I Slow Twitch Fibers and Type II-b Fast Twitch fibers. These fast twitch "intermediate" fibers will become more adept at oxidative metabolism.
Rest the day before or make sure that your workout is an easy one. Increase your percentage of carbohydrate in your diet for a few days before the run. This will be good training for marathon week, if you have one planned. Try to sleep well the night before the run. In the summer, do it early, before the temperature climbs into the 80's. Skip fatty foods, even tasty ones like pizza the day before the long run. Drink lots of water the day before the run and stay well hydrated during it.
During The Run:
Run about 1 minute to 1.5 minutes slower than anticipated marathon pace. Bring water and drink plenty of it during the run. Use power gels every 30 to 50 minutes on runs over 90 minutes.
Using a variety of training cues is helpful. Having an idea of the pace you should be running, keeping tabs on your heart rate and keeping it approximately 65% - 80% of MHR, and monitoring your perceived exertion will help keep your aerobic long runs in the aerobic range. The longer the run the slightly slower the pace and heart rate should be. These runs are not meant to be at a hard pace for most of us. Those who are running 70 - 140 miles per week are in a different category. They can run a bit closer to race pace or run their relaxed 18 - 20 miles and then do mile repeats at 10K pace as some of the elite runners do now. That is not even a dream for the non-elite runner. (It sounds more like a nightmare, if it were even a remotely accomplishable feat.).
Choosing Your Pace:
Enter the pace of a recent race to determine your long distance easy run training pace:
(based on runner's world calculations and formulas of Jack Daniel's)
Visit the training calculator at Runners world for more detail, and a variety of key paces..
The pace wizard at Team Oregon can help you determine the proper pace for your Aerobic long distance runs.
It is possible to include some pick ups within your long run if you have run a few marathons already. Hal Higdon suggests not running your long run at your marathon pace however. For most long runs he and many others recommend 45 seconds to 90 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace. For the advanced runner, looking for variety he suggests you start off easy: do the first 3/4 of the distance at your long run pace, then speed up to finish close to marathon race pace in the last 1/4 of the run. For example on a 16 mile run, run the first 12 at an easy pace, the last 4 go at least 20 - 30 seconds per mile faster than you started out. An alternative is to run the first hour and 1/2 of a two hour run slow and easy and pick it up a bit in the last 30 minutes. A third way might be 6 miles easy, 4 miles race pace, finish with 6 miles easy. You should not try these on a 30 - 40 mile per week schedule or in your first marathon. On the lower mileage schedule your long run should be a purely aerobic workout with the only stress being the distance. Your body is learning to use fat as fuel at the lower speeds and longer distances. The benefit is coming from just being out on the road for longer than 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Incorporating The Long Run In A Marathon Program:
There are many excellent schedules available in texts and on the web. My favorite marathon training site is Hal Higdon's Marathon Training . Hal has placed many different levels of training schedules online both for the marathon and for other distances.
Don't forget to run slow and run long. This base is what the rest of the training pyramid will build on. Time spent in training is more important than pace for this type of running.And if you are considering the long run to improve your base for 10K running programs: try it, you might like it.
E/L Pace: An aerobic pace for easy runs or long distance aerobic training runs.
Energy Systems:There are 5 systems that are employed to generate
energy for running:
Reps: Repetitions of a specific movement within a group of exercises called a set.
VO2Max: The maximum volume of oxygen that the body can utilize each minute during exercise.This is a measurement of ones maximal capacity to perform work aerobically.
Oxygen Consumption (VO2)= Cardiac Output (Stroke Volume) x Arterial-Venous oxygen difference (a-v O2 difference).
Glycolysis: The term Glycolysis comes from glyco meaning sweet (as in glucose) and lysis which means to split. The purpose of glycolysis is to generate ATP from by rearranging the atoms in glucose. and to break it down to provide pyruate which may then form lactate in an anaerobic environment or in an aerobic environment, go on to the Kreb's (citric acid) cycle which is much more efficient at creating ATP then the anaerobic metabolic pathways.
Progressive Training: To continue your progress you build on what has come before. Aerobic long distance runs provide the basis on which both longer and faster runs will come.
Mitochondria: The power house of the cell.Location of most aerobic metabolic processes.
The Warm Up
A warm up is considered vital for all performing speedwork. But it is even important for long runs. A slow 10 minutes of running will allow your body the opportunity to warm up to operating temperature and condition for your training. Warming up is a process. It is a series of things that are done to prepare your body for the stresses of training or competing.
Your warm up for a long run should be 10 minutes of easy running followed by a few minutes of gentle stretching. This will give you more options during your run. You will then feel better ascending hills and using a longer stride during your strides or any other pick up you perform in the course of your long run.
An even more thorough warm up is required for lactate threshold running or other faster runs.
McArdle, W.D., and Katch, F.I., and Katch, V.L., Exercise Physiology,
fourth edition, Williams and Wilkins, 1996.
Interaction Between Aerobic and Anaerobic Metabolism During Intense Muscle Contraction. Paul L. Greenhaff, James A. Timmons. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews. Volume 26, 1998.
Cellular Respiration - http://www.phage.org/campbl09.htm#cellular_respiration
Copyright © 2002 Stephen M. Pribut