The Long Run is a staple in most runners weekly training schedule and is often seen as the base for building aerobic endurance. Ideally, the purpose and goal of your long run is to teach your body to sustain running for an extended period of time, without failure and while maintaining good running form.
When this is broken down further, is that your body will learn to run more efficiently and conditions your heart and lungs to work more efficiently. The long run also allows your body to learn how to more efficiently burn fats as a fuel source, via the lower aerobic intensity during a long run.
From a mental standpoint this long training run gives you the mental preparation, toughness and reliance needed for those looking to take on a marathon or half marathon (or possibly even a longer event). The psychological fatigue when running for a longer period of time is something that should not be overlooked along with any hydration and nutritional needs.
For both running and multisport athletes, the long run allows you to trial your personal hydration and nutritional requirements that you will need for race day. Using your long run to test your fueling strategy can be of huge benefit come race day.
One of the biggest misconceptions is the intensity at which your long run is done at. At its core a long run session is designed to get your body used to running longer more efficiently. With this being said the important thing to remember is that you want your long run to feel quite comfortable and controlled in nature. The big benefits will come from staying consistent over a long period of time and building your endurance base, which will result in you being a faster running, as you will be able to sustain your pace over longer and longer periods of time.
The long run should be a weekly session within your overall training weekly training plan alongside your easy runs, tempo runs, strength training and other more specific workouts such as track sessions. Most suggest that one long run per week is a good number to stick by, simply due to the risk of injury outweighing any further reward of increased fitness by completing twice or more within a 7-day window. With this said, some runners do prefer a long run done every 10 days however the one long run per week approach can be more desirable due to the fact that typically your body is recovered and ready to run long again after just a few days of recovery.
The most important key to remember about your long run is that consistency over time will yield the results of a greater level of running endurance. No single long run session will make you a better runner; however, once you start to complete this workout each week for weeks, months and years on end, you will see a big improvement in your running endurance and speed.
*All images and videos are credited to Bec Ohlwein
Sam Betten is an Australian Professional Triathlete, IM70.3 Champion and Team Brooks Athlete. Sam enjoys running and competing and always works to push himself and strive for a new PB. Follow Sam’s journey here.