Long Runs – fueling, duration, benefits

We start introducing a “longer run” very early in a runner’s career. Your longer run is all relative to your weekly mileage & events you are training for. Most long runs should be between 25-33% of your weekly mileage. If you are running 25 miles per week, you can get an idea for how long your long run should be by (25 * 30%= 7.5 miles). It is best to not run over 33% of your weekly mileage in one run to reduce the chance of injury. If you do a lot of aerobic cross training (biking, swimming, elliptical) and have a strong background in the sport, you might be able to get away with more.

The benefits of the long run:

1. On a cellular level, you will develop an increase in capillary networks from the lungs & leg muscles. This means blood & oxygen can be transported better, so you can use the oxygen more efficiently.
2. Increase in mitochondria which power the cells to utilize the oxygen more effectively
3. Body learns how to become more conservative with muscle glycogen and opts to utilize body fat as a form of fuel
4. The fast-twitch convertible muscle fibers can be taught to act like  slow-twitch muscle fibers which allows enabling them to participate more in endurance-related events
5. Connective tissue becomes stronger between muscles, tendons & bones which can reduce the risk of injury.

Some Facts to know about duration:

Research has shown that your body gets the most physiological benefits from runs between 60-90 min in duration AND that runs over 3 hours start to have demising returns and the risk of injury becomes much higher. It is important to note these rules when training for your next big event.

Runs over 90 min- Glycogen Storages start to become used. You can add in fuel like gels during runs over 90 min. You should take a gel/gu at 45 min & then again every 30-45 min with water every time.

Runs over 120 min Fast twitch convertible muscle fibers begin to ‘act like’ slow twitch muscles allowing your body to make physiological adaptations which will benefit you in endurance events.

Marathon Training  I like to utilize 1 medium long runs in the 75-90 min mark during the week in addition to the weekend long run of 2-3 hours during marathon training. Having runs over 3 hours something I like to avoid if possible.

Half Marathon Training- I like to utilize 1 medium long runs in the 75-90 min mark during the week in addition to the weekend long run of 1.5-2 hours.

5k-10k Training- I will keep most long runs 90 min or under to insure we are not depleting our glycogen storages. The focus for 5k-10k training will be less on building the long run and more on quality sessions during the week.

Off season Training- I like to keep it in the 60-90 min range also. We want to be able to give the body a break from the training of marathon/half marathon training. If you cut this even shorter, that is okay too! It is all relative to the person/athlete.

How to Fuel before, after & during:


under 60 min- keep everything the same as a normal training run. Eat something light 90-120 min before your run & make sure you are staying hydrated as always throughout the day

60-90 min – keep everything the same as a normal training run. Eat something light 90-120 min before your run & make sure you are staying hydrated as always throughout the day

90+ min – add in additional carbs the 48 hours leading up to this run. Focus on getting complex carbs that will break down slowly like sweet potatoes, whole grains, quinoa. Don’t fill up on simple carbs like white bread or junk food- that is not carbo-loading. HERE IS A BLOG ABOUT CARBO LOADING 🙂


under 60 min- You can have water if you need it

60-90 min – option to take gu/gel at 45 min & again every 30 min. Take the gu/gel with water when possible

90+ min – option to take gu/gel at 45 min & again every 30 min. Take the gu/gel with water when possible


Muscles need to be repaired with protein & glycogen needs to be replenished with carbs. The best option after a run is something high in both carb & protein content. You could do a protein powder shake with a banana for example.

How mileage & training specificity effect your training

Cross training, running, lifting, yoga, fitness classes- it can be really overwhelming, right?

What should you be doing if you want to become a faster runner?

The system you stress is the system that improves. To run fast, you need to run fast in workouts. To run far, you need to be doing long runs. Just like shooting free throws will not help you become a better football player, doing yoga will not help you build your running endurance.

Practice makes perfect. To become a better runner, you must run more. Running more will increase your running economy and aerobic base. Running economy is the rate at which your body consumes oxygen. Running is aerobic sport. Aerobic means “with oxygen”. The more efficiently you can utilize oxygen while running, the better. Running more = teaching body to utilize oxygen better.

However, there are limits to how much you can safely increase your running mileage per week. Running is a high impact, weight barring exercise, so it is important to use the progressive overload principle. This is the gradual increase of a stress placed on the body overtime. By doing this gradually, you are allowing your body to adapt and grow stronger on a cellular level without increased risk of injury. The general rule is no more than a 10% increase in mileage per week. It is also important to integrate a 25% mileage cut back week 1 time per month.

You can continue to increase until you have found a “sweet spot” of mileage. This might be different for every athlete. I like to hoover in the 65-70 range. My husband like the 55-60 mile range. You might find 45 miles per week works well for you.

When Cross Training Becomes Important:

Cross training can help build your aerobic base (the rate at which your body utilizes oxygen) without the additional stress/impact of running. You can start with 20-40 min sessions of easy effort walking, elliptical, and cycling in addition to the 10% increase in running mileage per week. The goal will be to turn these cross training days into running days eventually with the 10% increase rule.

The best forms of cross training are the activities that make your body mimic the running motions. These activities are biking, walking, elliptical, stairs. Those would be more beneficial for building the muscles you will use while running. While rowing and swimming are also aerobic activities, they are not specific to using the same muscles you utilize while running.

When Lifting Becomes Important:

Lifting is always good to add into your routine to make sure there are not imbalances created in the body. Running is highly repetitive. If you have 1 side or 1 muscle group that is “stronger” or “weaker” than another, you will be susceptible to an injury due to the imbalances causing a change in your natural gait. To work on building stregnth throughout your body, lifting can be prescribed. Once application that is good for finding your “weak spots” is the Saucony Stride Lab. You can also get workouts prescribed by a PT or specialist.

When Yoga Becomes Important:

Yoga can be a strength and balance exercise. This is very similar to the imbalances we explained in the lifting section. Working on balance and engaging those weaker muscle groups will help you have a better stride and be a more efficient runner.

Want to be a successful runner? Make it apart of your weekly/daily routine.

Want to be a successful runner? Make it apart of your routine

The most successful runners I coach are not necessarily the most naturally talented runners. Natural talent can only get you so far without the work ethic and a solid routine to back it.

All of my successful athletes have 1 thing in common: a solid routine or obligation to run.

“hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”

Success is the sum of small things done day in and day out. If you can find a way to make running apart of your lifestyle, you will discover success.

Tips for forming a solid routine around running

1- Packing your gym bag or running clothes the night before & mentally planning for the next day

2- Watching your nutrition and hydration throughout the day knowing what run is coming in the next 24 hours and planning your meals around your run. If you are planning on an 8 mile tempo run @ 4pm after work, it might be a good idea to order something light if your co-workers all go out to eat at 1pm! All about planning it out and thinking ahead. It is on-going, but it will become a routine

3- Watching your activity level – Will you be on your feet all day? Are you doing exhausting manual labor? Sometimes we need to take a break between activities or make adjustments to the training plan based on the energy you are expanding during the week

4- Telling yourself it’s okay to ‘cut it short’. It’s mentally exhausting to think about ‘having’ to go on a run sometimes. Your body is hard-wired to want to conserve energy. Sometimes focusing too much on the distance or daunting workout can cause you to skip it all-together. I always say to myself and my athletes, “just go to the gym or go on your run and focus on just going for 1 mile”. It’s better to allow yourself that mental flexibility that will get you to the gym/out on the run… Then when you get warmed up, you will usually want to continue 🙂 And if you don’t, then cut it short.

How to use a foam roller to enhance your running

There are several different foam rolling tools out on the market for runners. There tools can be highly beneficial for aiding in the recovery & injury prevention process.

Some of the tools I use:

Classic Foam Roller– This is a great tool for all runners to add (target, amazon, your local gym)

Vibrating Foam Roller– A new level of foam rolling & totally worth the money (Hyperice)

The Stick– Better for calf & digging into specific spots (online or local running store)

Roll Recovery R3– travel sized roller that can really dig in deep to specific spots

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Why we foam roll:

These tools all work to break apart any adhesions or scar tissue that builds up on the muscles. When you train, your muscles get micro tears that will build back to become stronger. This process is on-going, and as athletes, we are always trying to get faster & enhance this process. Sometimes, the natural recovery process can lead to adhesions forming on the muscles as the cells go to repair. When adhesions build up on a muscle, athletes will usually start to experiencing pain on nearby tendons. Everything is connected.

How to foam roll:

When foam rolling, it is important to focus on the major muscles like quad, hamstring, glute, calf. Scan through the entire muscles and focus equal time throughout. Sometimes focusing on the spot that “hurts” is not the exact source of the problem. Always a good idea to scan through the entire muscle to break apart anything else that might be the source.

How Often to Foam Roll:

I would recommend foam rolling 2-3x per week for 5 min at a time. A quick scan through the muscles and breaking apart any adhesions before anything serious pops up is a great way to aid in injury prevention

Disclosure about foam rolling:

If you are experiencing pain, I would highly recommend seeing a doctor to assure it is not something serious. I always advocate for ART (active release) chiropractors and doctors. It’s important to remember that foam rolling is more of a recovery activity- it will not cure any serious pain you are having.

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What are strides & why you should do them

Strides might be a new term for some people, but they are the very basic foundation precursor to more advanced speed work. Strides are simply short, quick surges of fast running followed by a full recovery between.

Benefits of strides:

-acceleration build up leading to increased leg turnover. Have you ever heard of cadence? This is the amount of steps you take while running per min. Most people need to increase their cadence to be running at a more efficient level. Strides can help increase you cadence

-wake up the legs after an easy run for more advanced speed workouts to come later in the week. Sometimes strides can be used before a hard workout or a race. This will allow your legs to be ready to dive into a faster pace in the workout

-help improve running form- by running at top speeds, your body is forced to run with it’s most efficient form. You will teach your body how to run on your toes/forefoot

-Preparing your body to learn how to ‘change gears’. Strides are a great precursor to more advanced speed workouts. Incorporating strides early on in your running career can teach your body the different ‘gears’ you have.

When to do them:

  • During the very end of an easy run the day before a workout
  • After a warm up leading into a workout or race

How to do them:

During the end of an easy run or end of a warm up doing 3-6x 20 seconds @ 5k pace. Try to not worry as much about the pace but the effort. It should feel like a solid hard, effort. It should be short enough where you are not super fatigued. These are not meant to be a hard workout but rather a wake up call for your legs with fully recovery between fast bursts

Enjoy them!