Today’s article is for the aspiring loooong distance runner.
As a runner attempts to work towards a longer distance race, which may be the move from half marathon to marathon, or marathon to ultra-marathon, one of the biggest difficulties is getting in the longer runs at the end of the week. Obviously, it would be ideal if you could just slowly add the kilometers to your long run, but what happens if you are just struggling with the mental weight of those longer sessions?
There are other options…
1) Turn your long run into a two part session. Run 60-70% of it in the morning and then finish it off in the afternoon.
2) Run as far as you can and then simply walk the rest of the way. If you were aiming for a 50km run and could only run 40km, walk another 15km to make up for the lesser effort of walking.
3) Back it up. Do a longish run on the Saturday and then follow it up on Sunday with another medium length run on tired legs.
4) Pre-fatigue. If you like riding, go for a long ride on hills to fatigue the legs then follow it straight up with a long run.
There are pros and cons of using these approaches in place of the standard long run, but if it means enjoying your running more and getting a bit of variety into your program when the distance starts to get a bit much, then it is worth considering.
The main thing you need to aim for is time on the legs. That time does not necessarily need to be 100% running, but the goal should be to stretch the comfort barrier of what your body feels it can handle.
If getting up the day after a long run and forcing your legs to push out another 10km on tired quads is difficult, then this will be great for your fatigue tolerance at the end of a race when it counts.
If walking the last 15kms of your 60km run means getting the distance done, then walk it.
There is a lot to be said for just solid exposure of prolonged effort.
It’s been said before, but you can’t fake your way through a Marathon, and you definitely can’t bluff your way through 100km or 100miles. The distance and time will get to you if you haven’t paid your dues. So log those hours, be it running, walking, crawling or any variation. There is no substitute.
But prize the enjoyment of the process above all else. At the end of the day, if you aren’t loving your running, then what’s the point.