One of the most common topics among runners is the long run. Why should you do it, when, how often, how far, and how fast are questions that many new athletes are interested in, especially if they are planning to run a marathon.
However, the long run is not beneficial only for marathon runners, it is good for all runners who want to run well at distances above 800m.
When talking about its benefits, the first thing that comes to mind is generally the extension of your cardiovascular fitness but there is so much beyond and we are going to explore it in this article.
Generally, most runners do a long run every week, or every ten to fourteen days depending on their training cycle.
1. It contributes to your weekly mileage
One of the benefits of the long run is that can easily contribute to your weekly mileage. It’s a good way to round up the volume you want to run using your long run.
This also means you can allow yourself to have some shorter runs during the week where you can feel fresh and fast for your workouts. Then the long run can balance the distance you ‘missed’ during the week.
You can do your long run either using duration or setting a certain distance in mind. Aim to cover at least 9 miles /14km or start with 90 minutes of very easy running if you are new to the long run training, and you want to feel the benefits.
However, if you are planning to run a marathon, you should try to go at least for 30k or two hours duration, depending on your speed. What happens during those runs physiologically, is that your enzymes in the muscles increases and your body produces small vessels called capillaries which will allow more oxygen to your muscles. This means you will be able to perform better because you will have more oxygen during your aerobic activities.
2. You become better and stronger
Moreover, since you spend more time on the ground, you are becoming more efficient in running. You will learn how to save energy and allow your body to find a way to run as easily as possible at a certain pace. But you also strengthen your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones and help your body to endure more overall. Think about the long run as a foundation to run well.
3. It improves your mental strength
The long run is challenging. Especially if you are new to it or you have to go too far or at a relatively fast pace. Thus, it is a great time to develop psychologically and improve your mental strength during running. Doing this is tough and it requires more from your body. The long run asks for more concentration and tolerance to running. You have to go out of your comfort zone and be okay with the fatigue that comes with it.
4. It allows you to explore new routes
But long run can take you places and help you explore nature. During your regular runs, you can’t go too far but during those long runs, you can find new spots and see things that are not every day on the table.
5. It's great for socializing
Long runs are also a great way to socialize with people. There is nothing better than nice company during a long run where you have enough time for all these crazy stories you always wanted to share.
6. You can treat yourself more
A long run is a good reason to have a good meal and why not even explore a new restaurant?
The long run requires good fuel in order to absorb the good work and re-load your glycogen, especially if you have been running with a decent effort.
Since you are burning more calories than usual, sometimes double or triple than your regular days, you can allow yourself to have a little celebration meal and enjoy it with no regrets.
7. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment
After a long run, you also have a feeling of accomplishment. You don’t run that far every day (thank God!) and you have a reason to feel more special.
Since the idea of the long runs are to be ‘hard’ or at least challenging – mentally or physically, after you have done them you feel like you really achieved something for the day and you planted some seeds for your future running success.
8. It boosts your confidence
Those long miles also boost your confidence. If you are able to endure some really good long runs, you know you can endure pretty much anything. Marathon runners know very well what I mean here. But even if you are not a marathoner, once you have to dig deep in your long run, you will know that you are capable of much more than you think. This confidence is a key aspect of every runner. Knowing that you are strong, not only physically but mentally, sets you to perform at your best capabilities whenever you are at the starting line.
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