November 11, 2014

Training Tuesday: Long run speed

While out running a long run Sunday with some of the girls from my running group, a discussion came about with my friend Roxanne about proper speed for the weekend long run.  She is currently training for the Phoenix Marathon in January and has a specific time goal she would like to achieve.  Most of the girls were running much faster than her pace that day, so we hung back and got her where she needed to be.

Let me preface this post by including this detail:  Every single runner/triathlete that is part of the Without Limits group is super competitive.  They work hard at practice and at every aspect of their life. It is a mixed group of school age children up to runners/athletes in their 60's.  We cheer for each others' successes and commiserate when a race or practice does not go exactly as planned. It is sometimes very hard for any of us to not run faster than a prescribed pace.  While it would seem helpful, the reverse can occur.

Take it slow, it is not speed work at the track!

Back to the subject of this post.  How do you decide what your pace should be for weekend long runs? There are numerous opinions about this subject, and most will recommend your long runs to be an average of a minute slower than your goal pace for race day. During my recent Marine Corps Training, there were days when keeping that pace was difficult, and then the days where I ran my long run fast because it felt good.  However, the studies that I have seen and read show that constantly trying to beat your recommended pace can cause you to not reach your goal due to fatigue from training.  Sometimes it is hard for competitive people to back off on a day when the run feels fantastic and you just want to bust out a great time.

Here are some of my recommendations:

* Find a running buddy that has a similar long run pace and hold each other accountable and don't race each other!

* Take breaks during the long run to hydrate and take in fuel if needed

* Keep weather and high temperatures in mind, and adjust your pace if it is above 60 degrees

* Hydrate, sleep and eat well the night prior to your long runs

* Most of all remember that the appropriate speed will help get you to that PR goal that you have set!

What tips do you have for keeping your long run speed?

22 comments:

  1. I think running portions of your runs at goal pace are important, but overall, I think pacing is more important during a speed workout or tempo run than a long run. If I trained for a marathon and had to run 18-20 miles for long runs, I'd be more than willing to run with someone whose long run pace was oh, 30 seconds slower than mine, just because I know that without another person, I probably wouldn't go the full 18-20 :). I also think you can run a long run too fast- you gotta make sure you can recover to run either the next day or 2 days later!

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    1. Amy, I should have included in the post that occasional pick ups to marathon or half marathon pace are helpful. I totally forgot!

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  2. I think I am pretty consistent at keeping all my runs the same pace. I know I should incorporate more speed in shorter runs and go a bit slower on longer ones. But like you said it is hard to do especially on days you are feeling good. -L

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    1. Sometimes it is harder to go slow, but for long runs, it is worth it so you can do speedwork and tempo work the next few days!

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  3. I was completely guilty of running all my runs basically at the same speed. This summer, I began to change that. I've worked very hard on speed during speed sessions and also to keep my long slow runs SLOW. We'll see if it pays off during my next few half marathons. I hope so!

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    1. we did the exact same thing for our first half marathon. We have learned that inserting some speedwork, tempo runs and cross training can really be helpful with goal times.

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  4. I'm using the Hal Higdon training plan this time and I like that my mid week runs are all longish at marathon pace. Makes me feel like I'm ready even though my long runs on the weekends are consistently a minute per mile slower. Great post! I'm really trying to stick with the slower long runs this time and I can already tell you they are far more enjoyable and I'm not dreading them each week!

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    1. Exactly Jen. It is easy to dread a long run if the time is at goal pace!

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  5. I would have to say that pacing is something I'm really good at when it comes to distance runs. I just have this internal metronome that keeps a certain rhythm. My race times (if I've actually done all the training) is almost always faster than my weekend long runs. I try to keep myself just under a certain effort level and I find that A) my endurance is much better and B) my speed just seems to increase over time without worrying too much about having a specific pace for every run.

    I'm bad at the short runs, though. It takes me around 4 miles just to feel good in a run, so I have a hard time doing speed work, etc. Great post!

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    1. I bet if you added speedwork, you would drop alot of time Jaime since you are athletic. I know that horses are your priority so as long as you enjoy running at your current speed, no big deal and no reason to change anything!

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  6. It's so important to adjust paces for run variances!

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  7. I'm not very fast, but I do have trouble accepting that my long run pace should be slower than my goal race pace. It just doesn't seem logical to me, but I have to trust the experts, books and studies!

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    1. You will find that the recovery is so much easier if you go at a slower pace. I don't end up comatose on my sofa if I keep the correct tempo! :)

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  8. Excellent tips - I have a great running buddy that runs the same pace and holds me accountable!

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    1. Lucky Jenny. Running buddies are the best!

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  9. Lately I have been trying to run with people who speed me up just a little bit so I have to push myself some.

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    1. Coming back from an injury and now being healed, you have been smart Abby. Now picking up your speed is a good idea.

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  10. great tips! I'm not fast and really try and pace myself for my long runs and push myself for my shorter mid-week runs. Sometimes the opposite happens but I try to remain on target.

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  11. Great tips! I always have a hard time with this. I KNOW you're supposed to slow down, take breaks, etc. during a long run, but sometimes I feel guilty for taking advantage of that...like I should be at least trying to go a little bit faster in order to really prepare for race day. Guess I'm going to have to find someone fast to run with. :)

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    1. As long as you do quicker short runs mid week, there is no need to pick up the pace during your longer runs on the weekend.

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