Below is a blog post I wrote for Cape Cod Rehab’s Cape Cod Marathon Training Tips. To see the original, visit the Mashpee Fitness blog.
The long run is the staple to any training program. In fact it is one of the most important runs of the week. The benefits of the long run are both mental and physical as your prepare for race day.
From a mental standpoint, the long run helps build confidence. Confidence in yourself, your running and your ability to get to that finish line. You also learn to handle discomfort and while finding out what you are capable of if you keep going.
Physically the long run forces your body to adapt to the training. It’s about the time spent on your feet and building endurance. Some training plans will incorporate tempo work at goal race pace but for the most part, your long run should be done at the sub-maximal level. Think about conversation pace—or anywhere from 30-90 seconds slower than your normal running pace. When you slow down, you’re training aerobically and the body relies less on burning carbohydrates and relies more on burning fat for energy. Running at conversation pace, we can train our bodies to stay in that aerobic zone longer before crossing over to anaerobic where no oxygen is available and we start to build lactic acid.
5 Tips to Help You Survive the Long Run:
1. Map out a route ahead of time.
If you have a plan and know exactly where you are going you are less likely to call it quits early.
2. Bring hydration and fuel.
A general rule of thumb is if you are running longer than an hour, your body will need fluids and electrolytes to keep you going—and even sooner if you are training in the heat! If you don’t have a way to carry it, try driving the route before you run and stash water bottles and nutrition every couple of miles.
BONUS TIP! Find out what will be provided out on the race course and start training with that so you have plenty of time to find out how your body responds to it and to decide what works best for you.
3. Bring a buddy.
Running doesn’t have to be a solo sport. Run with a friend or group for motivation and support.
4. If you’re having a bad day, accept that you’re having a bad day.
It happens to everyone. Don’t let one bad long run let you down. Learn to listen to your body and figure out what went wrong as you look ahead to your next run.
5. Patience is key. Pace yourself and take it one mile at a time.
Good luck out there! Happy running!