We don’t mean it disrespectfully, but for runners, the long run on the weekend is a bit like weekly church attendance. A little review of that beautiful ritual associated with long-distance running.
It’s a weekly trip. The only training for which I take special measures. White sandwiches with strawberry jam as fuel in advance, along with a handheld water bottle, just like gels, debit card and public transport chip card. Here we go: loooong run!
Loved, hated and sometimes feared is it: the long run. An integral part of any training schedule for long-distance runners. ‘Deadly boring’, some say, for others even ‘the reason I won’t run a marathon’ and for others it’s the dessert of the training week.
How long is long?
What is the long run? As with so many things related to training leather, it varies from runner to runner. For someone who has just been running for a few months, an eight-kilometer endurance run is quite a long run. For an ultra runner, endurance runs of 60 or 80 kilometers are not exceptional. But for mere mortals following an average marathon schedule, the longest run is usually 18 miles or so. I myself run them up to about 21 miles leading up to a marathon.
You have long runs in all kinds. There’s the slow long run, which you finish well below your target marathon pace. It is especially this variant that many runners dread. Boring, they think, such an endless piece at a snail’s pace: “That’s not running, that’s jogging”. With this run you get used to being on the road for a long time and because of the low pace you train your body to burn fat as fuel.
Bit of action
To spice up your long run, you can incorporate tempo blocks. For example, you run the first half at a relatively easy pace, then two kilometers at race pace, one kilometer at rest, two at pace, etc. Or you turn the second part – with those sixteen kilometers in your legs – into a kind of interval training: 800 meters accelerate, 400 meters recovery, 800 accelerated, 400 easy and that about six times. Also tasty and very suitable to expel the boredom from the long run. You just can’t run those ‘duration plus’ too often, because they demand quite a lot from your body and therefore require a lot of recovery time. So you can’t avoid walking that long slow one as well.
Returning to the first paragraph. If you are going to run for more than an hour and a half, it is good to have a drink with you. You will also have to drink during a marathon, otherwise you will not reach the finish. The endurance run is a good opportunity to practice running drinking. The same goes for gels; they can sometimes hit your stomach violently. It is therefore advisable to test before your big day which gel you like or tolerate. Debit card and public transport chip card: if you get stranded, you can at least come home.
The long run is a party! It is a great gift to be able to run for more than three hours without breaking down completely. That long run is a party that sometimes becomes a very big party during that hour-long trip. When the sun shines or when you see a kestrel. When thinking has stopped and thoughts come in.