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.