by Jason Jaksetic, Spartan Fitness Writer and Editor
Once a week I plan on performing a long run. Doing this for awhile now, I’ve come to refer to this weekly activity as the long run.
The long run, once completed, become’s my long run for the week.
What is a/the/my long run? The long run is the run workout I do once a week that focuses on building my aerobic capacities through prolonged exposure to aerobic conditioning. Depending on where I am in my fitness, and in my racing season, this could be anything from a 45 minute road run to a 5-hour trail adventure.
The term “long” is in reference to the duration of the workout relative to my other runs of the week, whether measured in distance or time. For example, if running 25 miles in a week, through workouts of 5, 5, and 15 miles in length, the 15 mile run would be ‘the long run’. If I were running 57 miles in a week, and breaking it down into 5 workouts of 5, 10, 10, 12, and 20 miles, the 20 mile run would be ‘the long run’.
Running long is the theme. Here are some variations to keep your training fresh from week to week so that you don’t burn out or dread this looming day on your calendar. Besides, your body will benefit from the different ways you can push your aerobic and anaerobic systems with a long run.
Variations with Time and Space
Think distance, forget about time: This is a great long run for when you have a particular run course you want to enjoy. Leave the watch behind. You will be finished when the miles are run. There is no rush. And there’s no reason to slow down either. Just enjoy the run each step of the way.
Think time, forget about distance: When traveling this is my ‘go to’ for the long run. If I am in a new area and know I have the next 90 minutes free, I’ll pick an interesting looking direction and run for 45 minutes, before turning around and running back the way I came. The goal is to maximize each minute.
Forget about time and distance. Too often we are slaves to both our watches and our regular routes. Keep it simple: Start running. Run. Stop running. Resume normally scheduled life.
Variations with Tempo
Start Stong: After a solid warm up, throw down your first 3-5 miles at race pace. Then pull in the reigns and ease up into a conversation pace for the rest of your run.
Finish Strong: After warming up, ease into the first 3 quarters of your run at conversation pace. Stay loose. Then, with 3-4 miles to go, drop the hammer. Negative splits.
Track Intervals at end. Doing this ensures you will be above a great deal of the competition. Try and find a long run route that wraps up at a running track. Running fast on tired legs is different than running fast on fresh legs. Get some practice running fast at the end of your run by doing some ½ to 1-mile repeats to wrap up your run. Recover 1–2 minutes between each interval by keeping it to a light jog or even walk.
Variations with Strength Building
Carry a sandbag: Great for building stabilizers.
Wear a weight vest: Be sure to be gentle on your joints.
Do 10 burpees every mile: Simulate the race day experience of mixing up lots of strength building burpees into your running.
Regardless, of how you want to approach a long run, be flexible and keep an open mind. Your long run might be determined by how much time you can free up that day. That’s cool. Make every second out there count!
For more details on training for long distance, check out this blog by Dr. Jeff Godin, of Spartan Coaches.