In for the Long Run
As we head into the month of March, the threat of bone-chilling weather is less of a reality and running without layers of clothes becomes liberating as Spring is days ahead.† Some of us will encounter Springís obstacles, such as pollen, pollen, and more pollen!
With the milder and still less humid conditions than the dreadful summer heat and humidity ahead, Iíve always believed this is the best time of the year to get in those long runs that are necessary to build a strong training base.† If your goal is to run a strong 5K or make it up heart-break hill at the July 4th Peachtree Road Race, then now is prime time to get in some long runs.
When I explain to my young college runners about long runs, some will give me that look that I expect them to run a marathon distance!† In general terms, it depends what your racing goals are regarding distance runs.† For the majority of runners, 5Kís and 10Kís are still the standard.† When I was training for these distances, my long runs were 2-3 times longer than my racing distance.
For the 5K folks, you want to get in a long run of at least nine miles once a week, though twice a week will make you a stronger runner!† For the 10K, the long run should be a minimum of twice as long (12 miles), but two-and-a-half times longer (15 miles) will be more beneficial.
My only coaching challenge when it comes to long runs is getting folks to run it just right.† For the beginner, I just want them to get in the distance without any negative physical or mechanical effects.
As a runner becomes better conditioned, they need to run their long runs at a steady pace that works their lungs and heart while developing an efficient stride.† I donít like plodding on long runs.† If long runs are too much, you are either too tired or not ready for them.† A runner can pick up too many bad things from plodding and shuffling on long runs that the results are non-productive.
Long runs should consist of a variety of terrain that keeps you engaged in the activity.† Itís one thing to live in an area of the state or country where hills are nonexistent.† Donít avoid hills on long runs just to make it easier because you are setting yourself up for disappointment unless you have low expectations.
Depending on your training cycle, getting in as many long runs this time of the year will save some wear and tear on your body later on.† Iíd rather do a few long runs now than in August.† If you lay your training base now with long runs, you can afford to cut back when it gets hot and not lose too much of your fitness.
Getting in your long runs in this part of the world is challenging for at least a quarter of the year.† If you are not a high school or college runner, take advantage of springtime to build a strong base and become a more efficient runner.
What do you got to lose?† For a runner, whatís better than a long run in the woods on a lovely spring day?† Enjoy!