Our training program includes three types of running, speedwork, tempo runs and the long easy run. The easy/longer distance runs correspond to the running just below or at the aerobic threshold which is also the same as the heart rate training zone of 65% to 75% of maximum heart rate. When you improve your aerobic threshold you will run a faster marathon and half marathon.
Our clinic longer runs for the half marathon group is 10km to 19km, while the distance for the marathoners is 15km to 36km. The distance of the long runs is gradually increased to allow you to adapt week over week. Your body’s energy systems become more efficient, your legs become better at running long distances and you learn to concentrate for extended periods of time.
Pacing for half and full marathon long runs:
– Half marathon pace plus 30 to 45 seconds per km.
– Full marathon pace plus 30 seconds per km.
In a long slow run you want to avoid anaerobic running which produces lactic acid and cannot be sustained for long periods of time. Longer slow runs improve the efficiency of your aerobic systems, and develop the ability to burn fat as a fuel source.
If you run all of your long runs too fast you could burn out before the race and train yourself into a critical fatigue condition. At the critical fatigue condition you don’t have extra reserves; you’ve used all of your reserves in training and have saved nothing for races. Without the extra reserves is more difficult to finish a race at a strong pace. No reserves; you hit the wall sooner and run a slower race. Even slightly above the aerobic threshold can be detrimental.
The best approach is to run most of your long runs below the aerobic threshold. If you are not sure if you are running faster than your aerobic threshold then it’s better to error on the side of caution and run slower than run too fast.
There will be some timed segments of race pace tempo runs included in the Saturday long run schedule which will raise your fitness level in a controlled manner. Also as you get closer to race day you can add in a few race pace long distance training runs for race pace specific training. A few long runs at race pace will get you familiar with your race pace and boost your fitness without any burnout You will be comfortable with running at race pace but you won’t be overly fatigued by running at race pace every week during your mileage buildup.