Going Long – 5 Reasons to Add a Weekly Long Run
The weekly long run is the perfect end-cap to a week of training. Almost every running program will include one day a week with some extra mileage, whether you’re training for a 5k or a marathon. With good reason! The long run does more than just burn a few hundred more calories.
Yesterday my dad rode his bike next to me along the running path for my morning long run, all 14 miles. It couldn’t have been more beautiful out!
The out-and-back route took just under an hour and 45 minutes, or 7:30 per mile. Although the distance can vary from person to person, a good estimate of how far your long run should be is 20% of your weekly mileage. This week I ran 70 miles, therefore my long run is 14 miles. A 60-mile week would include a 12-mile long run. A 35-mile week = 7-mile long run.
5 Reasons you should go long:
1.) Most obviously, long runs increase endurance. If you run 4-5 miles daily, you could hit a plateau. Increase the mileage on your weekend run and watch your mid-week runs feel easier!
2.) Long runs teach your body to maximize efficiency and use fat for energy. Initially, your body uses its carbohydrate/glycogen stores for energy. As you run longer and burn up your glycogen, your body has to turn to fat for energy. With each long run, your effort should feel easier and easier.
3.) Long runs can be the most peaceful! Worst thing you can do is go into the run with an attitude of just “wanting to get it over with.” Every minute will seem like eternity. If you know you are heading out for a 75 minute run, be mentally prepared and positive. Yesterday, I was so excited for my long run, because I hadn’t been able to run a straight 14 miles at all at school, due to weather and lack of trails and boredom on the treadmill. When my dad and I headed out into the sunshine, I was looking forward to getting some quality miles in and made sure to enjoy the run. If you’ve never experienced the “Runner’s High,” go out for a long run. You’ll have a sense of pride in what you can accomplish!
4.) Long Runs don’t stress pace. You should feel comfortable the whole time, and if you have enough energy left, you can pick it up at the end. But you should never feel like you are straining or struggling on your long runs.
5.) Post-Run Brunch. Need I say more? Your carbohydrates have been depleted and need replenishing. Your metabolism is revved. You have most-assuredly earned a hearty brunch (that is NOT to say you’ve earned donuts or cinnamon rolls, your body deserves better than that!) But a fresh batch of whole wheat banana pecan pancakes?
I was oh-so-proud of my little Missy at the breakfast table yesterday; she takes after ME:
The traditional ‘Day of Rest’ is also good for getting in quality exercise! The most important thing is to ease into long runs though, adding about 1 mile per week so you don’t over-do it your first time out. Enjoy your Sunday!