Spicing Up the Long Run
Few things in running are more consistent than the weekend long run.
One can easily get into the habit of getting lazy with this workout and just going out for 2-3 hours at an easy pace.
Recently I was talking to an athlete with a Boston qualifying marathon time, who said she has never done anything but “get the miles in” during her long runs.
If your weekend long run has become a dreaded boredom induced two hour slog, I’d suggest you take a peak at the below suggestions to spice it up a bit.
We often get into the habit of doing the same routes over and over again. Search out new trails that you’ve never been to before, explore your city, run a local race course, or find a running group and join their weekend long run.
This may be the most overlooked aspect of a long run. If you have a half or full marathon coming up, performing durations at 90% goal pace can be extremely beneficial. Start with a few miles at 90% goal pace and every couple weeks extend how long you run at this speed. You could start at 2 x 2 miles and you end it 3 weeks out from the marathon with 18 at 90% goal pace! If you can do that outside of a race before a taper, you can run 26.2 miles at goal pace tapered in a race!
Do them bi-weekly
Consider that the long runs of elite athletes training 100+ miles per week are generally the same 18-24 mile distance as the weekend warrior. The difference is the elite may cover 18 miles a half our sooner and that 18 may only be 18% of their weekly volume vs the weekend warrior’s 45%. There is nothing magical about a 7 day cycle, instead try a 14 day cycle where one weekend you do a long run and the other you do a mid-distance tempo run plus. Combine that with a mid-week speed workout and fill in the rest of the days with rest or easy running, and you have a respectable bi-weekly format.
Another great way to ease into doing goal pace during long runs is to start with progression runs. Go from doing the entire run easy to having 1 moderate effort mile at the end. 2 miles next time, then 3. Cut back and do 2 hard, then 3 hard, then 5 moderate. Don’t worry about the pace, just focus on the perceived exertion.
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