Running Hard, but Running Controlled: Long Runs

Let me preface my comments by saying that for many runners – runners of all ages – there needs to be a build up of the long run to a level that they will maintain for months.  This post pertains to that long run, not the preceding long runs where the athlete is building their volume.

I firmly believe that to fully develop the aerobic system you have to run a weekly long run.  And that run should not be slow.  Doesn’t have to be a “race from the gun” type long run (though I’ve done my fair share of those) but at the least it should be a progression of running that takes the athlete through faster paces as the run progresses.  Or, say you’re running 17 miles.  You run the first six really easy, then the next four still talking, then you run five at a pace where you could talk but you probably aren’t talking, and then you squeeze it down just a bit more for those final two miles.

That said, when you do a hard long run, you should be able to say, “I could have run one, two or even three miles longer at that pace.  Those extra miles would have been really hard – maybe even felt like a race – but I could have done it.” [Read more…]