My first step in preparing for another YMCA Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot (my fourth in a row since moving to Buffalo in 2015), was ironically, not a step at all. Instead of opening the door and starting to run, I opened the laptop and started googling “running training plans.” I am a bit newer to the whole long-distance running scene and believe following a well thought out plan keeps me on track (pun intended). I was astounded as to how many training plans were circulating out there. Talk about information overload.
From couch to 5Ks to Boston qualifying marathon plans, I barely knew where to begin. To help shuffle through all the variations in the plans, in this article we will talk a bit about:
- A few different “types” of training runs
- The benefits of each type
- How to incorporate these runs into your training plan
The Long Run
As the name implies, a long run is an extended effort designed to increase your endurance. Your target race distance, your current training level, and prior running history all factor into the equation of “how long” your long run can be. When beginning a training plan, a good starting place is keeping long runs to about 20-25 percent of your total weekly volume(1). Meaning, a runner putting in 30-mile weeks would do a long run of 6 to 7.5 miles.
It is recommended that long runs should be completed at a “conversational pace” Long run pace is between 60 and 80 percent of your 5k pace. Meaning if you are a 30-minute 5K runner long runs should be completed at least two minutes per mile slower than 5K pace (11:30 -13:20), and a 20 minute 5K runner should be running between 8:00 and 9:30. While this may seem like a sharp drop in pace, remember, the goal of the long run is to build endurance and get your body used to work for an extended period of time without overtaxing your system (which can lead to injury or overtraining).
The goal of speed work is simple: you want to get faster. Benefits of adding speed work into your training will make your body more accustomed to running at faster paces, improves your mental toughness and focus, can enhance your running form, and can decrease perceived efforts at slower paces.
There are many subcategories of speed work. Tempo (or threshold runs) are performed at a “comfortably hard” pace that allows you to talk in broken words and hold that effort for at least 20 minutes (2). Interval runs are shorter bursts (1-3 minutes) at higher paces followed by a much slower recovery pace. The key with intervals is to find a pace at which you complete the intervals, followed by rest and are able to repeat the sequence for several rounds. Hill repeats are also a form of speed work in disguise. Find a somewhat short hill, instead of slowing down, maintain pace as you run up the hill to increase your effort intensity. You can use the downhill as a recovery period and repeat the process.
This type of running very often gets overlooked. Recovery is JUST AS IMPORTANT (if not more) than the training itself. Running at a relaxed pace can help you develop proper form, increase your base mileage, increase blood flow to sore muscles, and enhance your endurance (3). Recovery runs should be completed at about 60-90 seconds slower than your typical training pace (your go-to pace which your body gravitates towards).
These are only a few variations which can be incorporated into a training plan and running routine. Want to know how frequent and when to add these types of workouts into your training?
Watch the video below where I cover how to add long runs, speed work, and recovery days into your schedule for optimal race day results and injury prevention!
Watch this video to learn more:
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Latter, Philip. “Essential Guide to Long Runs.” Runner’s World, 9 Jan. 2019, www.runnersworld.com/uk/training/a774616/essential-guide-to-long-runs/.
Hadfield, Jenny. “What’s the Difference Between Fartlek, Tempo, and Interval Runs?” Runner’s World, Runner’s World, 11 Mar. 2019, www.runnersworld.com/training/a20852351/whats-the-difference-between-fartlek-tempo-and-interval-runs/.
“The Complete Guide To Recovery Runs.” Runners Blueprint, 15 Feb. 2019, www.runnersblueprint.com/the-complete-guide-to-recovery-runs/.