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1 Types of long run
- Slower runs that push the boundaries of the distance that can be covered. Walking breaks can help extend the distance further.
- Runs closer to marathon pace that provide a combination of speed and endurance.
- Practice runs, where the focus is on recreating race conditions, such as eating, drinking, etc.
2 Shortest long run for a marathon
For marathon training, I would consider 16 miles to be the shortest distance that helps prepare for a marathon. There are some programs, such as Hanson, that have 16 miles as the longest long run, but I don’t believe that provides sufficient training for most runners.
3 How long is a long run?
A long run should be far enough for the distance to present a stress on the body. It should be sufficient stress that it takes a day or two to recover from, but no more. If you still feel the effects of the long run on the third day, the long run was too far. If you bounce back to normal the day after the long run, it’s probably not far enough. For some runners this distance might be 30 miles, for others it may be 2 miles. I believe it’s okay to feel quite tired for the rest of a day after a long run, but complete exhaustion and the need to sleep may indicate too much distance.
4 How far, How Fast, How Often?
5 Cutback weeks
I’d argue that if you have a ‘cut back week’, the objective is to rest and recover. Is a 13 mile run the right approach, or would it be better to do far less? I believe that a run should be long enough to build endurance, or fast enough to build speed. The in between runs just impair recovery.