The Long Run

20 Miler run in Portland summer 2010 w/Dustin (water station on wheels) following by bike

Sunday for me  start with  a long run!  I chose a weekend day since this is when I have the most time.  You should choose a day out of the week that works best for you, mid-week works just as well if that is when you have the most time.


The distance of a long run is considered to be 10 miles or longer as well as runs that last over 90 minutes.  The long run starts with the longest distance you’ve covered and increases by one mile each week until you run 10 miles comfortably.  Once you reach that, you’ll shift to running long every other weekend, increasing by two miles each time until you reach  20 miles.  Do not increase either your  weekly mileage and/or  long run mileage by more than 10 percent a week. Doing so greatly increases the chances of incurring an injury, thereby delaying or stopping your training all together.

In his book, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide,  running guru Hal Higdon states that “speed is of limited importance during long runs.” More important says Higdon is the time runners spend on their feet. Higdon recommends doing long runs at a pace 30 to 90 seconds slower than the expected race pace, but even a slower running pace is acceptable since the goal of the long run is to improve endurance rather than running speed.  Higdon and other running coaches mention that if a runner can’t hold a normal conversation during the closing miles of a training long run, the pace was too fast.

What is your running pace?

Every runner has a natural running pace.  It’s the pace you fall into automatically when you go for your typical moderate, steady run of a certain predetermined distance or duration.  For each runner this pace changes over time as fitness is gained or lost, and it even changes from day to day based on how one feels—a factor that is influenced by fatigue from preceding training, above all.

A great source I used to estimate my pace is  The McMillan Running Calculator.  According to the website, the McMillan Calculator, “estimates your equivalent race performances using a current race time at any distance as well as giving the appropriate pace range for all the different types of workouts that you perform”.

The long run is the most important component of marathon training because it teaches the body to both mentally and physically tackle the challenges presented in completing the 26.2-mile event. Physiologically, the body must learn to tap into and utilize energy reserves from fat storage sites after the glycogen (fuel stores in the muscles, converted over from carbohydrate food sources) have been depleted.  AT this point speed is not important.  The long run will built your endurance getting your body comfortable working for a longer period of time.  Benefits or the long run are:

  • Strengthens the heart (increases stoke volume) and opens the capillaries, both sending energy to working muscles and flushing waste products from fatigued muscles.
  • Strengthens the leg muscles and ligaments, thus improving your endurance.
  • Recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers to help with slow-twitch tasks like running a Marathon.
  • Develops your mental toughness and coping skills, thus increasing/enhancing your confidence level that you can go the full 26.2 on race day.
  • Teaches the body to burn fat as fuel.
  • Increase aerobic efficiency

Eating and Hydrating Before, During, and After a Run


Consume some carbs 1-2 hours before exercise.  What I found works for me is an energy bar, a toast, a bowl of cereal, a corn muffin, or a banana. Avoid foods that are likely to upset your stomach  such as greasy foods, high-fiber foods, high protein foods. Drink 8-16 oz. of water, you can mix it up with juice too.

During run

Consume some sort of carbs for every 45 minutes of exercise. Go for a gel pack or sports bar and remember to wash them down with water. Gel packs typically contain 25-30 grams and are easy to digest. Drink 4-8 oz. water or diluted sports drink for every 15 minutes of exercise.  My stomach does not agree with the GU and during my coach training workshop Patti Finke suggested to have regular food like gummy bears for carbs and pretzel to replace salt you loose with the sweat.  I tried it once on my long run and found it works really good for me.


Consume carbs immediately after exercising. This can be a combination of food and drink. You will need to re-hydrate with water while eating an energy bar, bagel, or some form of carbohydrate.  After my run today my wonderful stepfather-in-law Bob made his delicious signature waffles with fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries to top it off for our irreplaceable family Sunday brunch!

Bob's Waffle

Bob’s Waffle-The Best on Earth


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