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Long Live the Long Run

11 Jul

It’s not just for Marathoners.

Anyone else remember how Arthur Lydiard trained his 8oo meter runner Peter Snell? Snell won the 800 meter Olympic gold in 1960. Lydiard decided that was not enough and made Snell train for a Marathon. Two months later Snell ran a world record in the metric mile and went on to win gold in both the 1500 and the 800 meter races. You might not be out on the track in London two weeks from now, and you might not want to join the mileage hogs you see training for Boston, but the long run is still for you.

What is it?

A standard Long run is going to be 18-25% of your weekly mileage and at 70-80% of your 5k race pace. It’s also good to try and make your long run at least one hour to get the full physical benefits from the effort. So, if you run 30 miles per week and hope to break 25 minutes (8:02 pace) at the next Chick-fil-A Connect Race in the series, you might have one 7.5 mile run per week at a 9:50-10:50 pace per mile. In order to ensure that you don’t torture yourself, take the first fifteen minutes to stretch out and ease into things, keep it steady in the middle, and quicken things up a bit the last fifteen. And of course, masochism never pays off. Thanks to the law of diminishing returns, if you push too hard, run too long, or don’t properly refuel, then you can cancel any plans for decent speed sessions the next week.

What is it good for?

You can probably imagine that the ability to run for two hours will give you a fair share of confidence the next time you run a 5k, but LSD (Long Steady Distance) can do more than that. It has a powerful ability to teach your body efficiency. First off, running more than normal will strengthen your muscles. What is even better is that the most important muscle of all, your heart, will begin to pump more blood per beat. This increased stroke volume results in more blood, more oxygen, and more fuel for the rest of your muscles. In addition to that, the long run stimulates your muscles to burn fat more efficiently, build more capillaries, store more glycogen and myoglobin, stimulates your cells to form more mitochondria (where most aerobic process take place), and increases the efficiency of the enzymes within that mitochondria. In other words, you will be able to both distribute and process more fuel.  With that increased facilitation of fuel, your body will better resist fatigue.

The carry-out?

Build up your long run. Get excited to See David Rudisha set an 800 meter world record in London. Eventually taper your training so that you can set your own record at the next CFA Race Series 5k.