• Helen Phillips

Get your marathon training long runs right

If you’re following a marathon or half marathon programme, or just running for longer and further just for fun then you’ll probably be heading off at some point during a weekend for a long run.

The Long Run is THE most important run to get right if you’re training for a marathon or half 

It’s when you’ll train your body to get used to running further and as well as training your mind for running for longer, and keeping going even when things start to hurt!

Read on for help with how to get your marathon training long runs right.

But a lot of people compromise their endurance long run training and train in a running “dead zone”, trying to run at the fastest pace they can for the length of time they're out, or trying to run at the same pace they’re aiming for for their marathon or half.

You won't believe me … but to get the best results from this training you NEED TO SLOW DOWN!

Yes … you heard right ... go SLOWER on your next long run.  You need to be running at an easy conversational pace.  At this pace your running should feel no harder than 5 out of 10 for effort.  You need to feel, at all times on the run, that you are running frustratingly slow, barely raising your heart rate and breathing easy. And here’s why.

The aim of the long run isn’t to challenge yourself to see how fast you can run a certain distance.  By all means do this, but it’s not effective long run training for a marathon.

The aim of the long run is to train your body to burn FAT as fuel in the presence of OXYGEN.

When you run at a high intensity your body relies on carbohydrate to power your running. Carbohydrate is easy to burn, so can be used by the body to fuel those faster and more intense runs.

However, the body only has enough carbohydrate stored (as glycogen in muscles and the liver) to fuel 90 minutes of running. Unless you’re super speedy, you’re not going to get around a half, and no way a marathon in 90 minutes!

To run for longer the body uses fat to power you along. We’ve all got plenty of fat stores to power our way through numerous marathons.  But burning fat is a slow and complex process. It’s an AEROBIC process, so you need to be taking in and getting oxygen to the muscles and fat also needs glycogen available for the process.

So FAT BURNING running takes place at lower paces, on those lower effort runs

The greater the intensity, the more carbohydrate and less fat is used to fuel the run.

So the purpose of the long run is to TRAIN YOUR BODY TO BURN FAT to make it an efficient FAT BURNING MACHINE.  Over the weeks of your training programme, as your mileage increases you’ll be adapting and training your body to be a better FAT BURNER, so race day you’ll be a more efficient runner.

Running at this pace is HARD. It’s easy and so tempting to speed up. But DON’T! 

Make your long runs super effective by SLOWING DOWN.

If you've a marathon in your sights why don't you come and join Marathon Club Hub to help with your training and preparation for your race.  Marathon Club Hub is my marathon training and preparation coaching programme for marathon first-timers and will help you get trained, prepared and ready to run your marathon without the stress of having to work it all out yourself.

Each week through spring you'll join other first-timers for a virtual training & preparation coaching call to keep you on track with your plan.

Come join Marathon Club Hub HERE.

Let's do this!

Helen x

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