Whether you’re training for the RBC Run for the Kids 5K, 15K or 25K distance, the long run is a critical component to your training program. Long runs have three major training effects which will help you to run faster over any distance:
- They increase your body’s ability to burn fat and save its limited glycogen stores
- They increase your muscles’ capillaries, allowing more oxygen to be delivered to working muscles
- They strengthen your running specific muscles, bones, tendon and ligaments
There are a few keys tips for including long runs into your training schedule so you can maximize their benefit while reducing the risk of getting injured:
- “Long” is relative to you. Long runs should comprise 20-30% of your total weekly mileage. If you’re training for 5K and running 30 kilometers a week, your long run should start at 7K to 10.5K. If you’re training for 25K and running 55 kilometers a week, you long run can start at 11K to 16.5K.
- Increase gradually. As you build up, don’t increase your distance more than 10% every week.
- Keep it easy. Your pace for long runs should be conversational. The distance itself will provide the effort and provide the training benefits – don’t push the pace.
- Take a break. About every three weeks, bring your long run back down to where you started to give your mind and body a chance to take a break and start building again.
- Fuel up. Long runs require more glycogen and water than your regular runs. Plan your hydration and nutrition accordingly.
- Ease up before and after. Take an easy training day the before and after your long run so your body can get the most out of the training.
A final word: don’t fear your long runs – you can learn to enjoy and even love them. Long runs are one of my favourite parts of training. Whether you use the time to catch up with friends or to meditate on your own, long runs are likely a piece of your training which you will stick with once you’ve reached your race goal.