At running.COACH, we consider the weekly long run to be one of the key units and focal points of the training week, along with the intensive runs. In this article, we would like to show you why long runs are so important for improving performance and what you need to bear in mind when carrying them out.
What is a long run?
A long run is, as the name suggests, a long extensive training run. The aim of the run is to improve endurance, mechanical resistance and aerobic capacity. The run is performed at a low intensity and lasts a maximum of 180 minutes at running.COACH (see below to find out why).
Why should you include long runs in your training?
This question has already been answered in part in the previous section. Long runs help to improve aerobic performance and endurance and to accustom the body to mechanical stress. This is done as follows:
IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Long runs can optimise the use of fat reserves. It is true that fat metabolism is used at almost all intensities. However, it is most efficient at low intensities (so the most calories are burned in relative terms). Read more here
IMPROVING THE CAPILLARY SYSTEM
The capillary system is the network of small, finely branched blood vessels that form the transition between veins and arteries and supply human tissues with blood and thus with oxygen and nutrients.
In some arteries, the diameter increases due to stress, which, to put it simply, makes the vessels more elastic. In addition, the formation of new blood vessels is promoted and thus the supply of tissue (for example, muscles) is improved. The effect of improving the supply of oxygen and nutrients is enhanced, and at the same time the removal of waste products is also improved.
TRAINING THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM
The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and blood vessels and is responsible for the transport of blood through the body. The effects on the blood vessels have already been explained in point 2. So what remains is the effect on the heart muscle. This is stimulated and trained during running, just like every other muscle involved in the movement. On the one hand, this increases the volume of the heart and, on the other, its performance. More blood can therefore be pumped through the body at once in a more efficient way, allowing more nutrients and oxygen to reach the muscles.
STRENGTHENING AND BUILDING MITOCHONDRIA
Mitochondria are the “powerhouses” of cells. They use oxygen to convert carbohydrates and fats into energy. There are thousands of them in every cell and depending on how much energy a cell needs, the number of these cell organelles increases or decreases. So it is true: training stimulates the production of additional power stations in the cells.
BETTER TOLERANCE OF (MECHANICAL) STRESS
Longjogs help the body to get used to longer monotonous loads. The muscles and bones can thus better absorb the impacts and withstand long running loads. This is extremely important, especially for running goals with long running times (e.g. marathon).
Of course, some of these points are also trained at high intensity. However, it is important to expose these functions to extensive stress over a long period of time.
How often and how fast?
A long run should be on the training programme once a week. Exactly how long the run should be depends on the training goal you have set. For example, if you are training for a marathon, the long runs are longer than if a 10km run is the highlight of the season.
With running.COACH, the duration of the long runs is structured cyclically. The training duration is increased from week to week within a cycle and then reduced abruptly when moving to the next cycle, before the sequence is repeated. We recommend limiting the long runs to 3 hours. In our opinion, the additional benefit of longer runs is not commensurate with the risk of overload.
running.COACH sets the pace of the long jogs. This depends on the time within the form build-up, but as a rule the intensity should be kept low. Good starting points are the “conversation check” (you should be able to hold a conversation effortlessly while running) or the nasal breathing check (you should be able to manage the oxygen supply effortlessly by breathing exclusively through your nose).
Tips for long runs
- Schedule them on a day when you have plenty of time to train (to avoid stress).
- If you are still feeling the “aftershocks” two days after the long run, shorten the next long run.
- Use the long runs to test your nutrition plan for the main race.
- Run in company – this makes it easy to integrate the conversation check into your training.