easy long runs
Easy long runs are the runs that you do at a comfortable, chatty pace to improve endurance, aerobic base and mental stamina.
Build long runs up gradually over your training weeks until you have reached 80% of the distance of the race you are training for. For example, for a marathon your easy long runs should reach 21 miles. For shorter races, like 5km and 10km, I would recommend reaching the full distance ahead of race day.
For more experienced runners long runs can be built up more quickly and runs can be longer.
- Build up gradually, adding 5-10% in mileage each week.
- Fuel correctly and take gels and water out with you.
- Plan your final long run around 3 weeks before race day.
- Wear your race day kit on one of your long runs, things start rubbing in funny places after 20 miles!
running by pace
Long runs need to be done at a much slower pace than target race pace. Long runs are for building endurance and the speed will come from the speed sessions in your training. Running long and fast during training will require too much recovery time.
Knowing what pace to run can be difficult but aim for 20% slower than target race pace; this should feel 'conversational'. So, if you want to run a 3.30hr marathon that's an 8min/mile race pace. Long easy runs should be around 9.5min/mile. The idea is to keep this pace consistent throughout the run. It may feel too easy at first but once the miles start increasing maintaining the pace becomes more difficult.
- Run 20% slower than goal race pace
- Keep pace consistent throughout the run
- Adjust the pace if your form is being negatively affected
running by heart rate
Your heart rate is the amount of times your heart beats in a minute and this will increase the harder you work. Most running watches now have a heart rate monitor built in but they can also be connected to a chest strap for more accurate heart rate monitoring.
Heart rate training is based on heart rate zones. For an easy long run, the aim would be to stay in a zone which enables the aerobic system to be exercised without putting too much strain on the body. One option for easy long runs is to calculate your heart rate for Zone 2 and stay within this zone throughout the run.
So what is a Zone 2 heart rate? Well, firstly you need to know your maximum heart rate. There are lots of formulae to use. The Gelish formula is 207 - (0.7 x age). For a 30 year old, their maximum heart rate would be 186. This is very much an estimate. If you have a heart rate strap then the associated apps can guide you through a workout to calculate your maximum heart rate more accurately.
Once you know your maximum heart rate you can work out your heart rate zones. Zone 2 refers to 70-80% of your maximum heart rate. For a 30 year old with a maximum heart rate of 186, their Zone 2 is 130bpm - 149 bpm.
- Long runs can be based on heart rate instead of pace
- Ideally get a chest strap monitor for accuracy
- Calculate your maximum heart rate (207 - 0.7 x age)
- Run in Zone 2 for long runs (70-80% of your maximum heart rate)
running by feel
Easy long runs should be one of the less intense sessions in your fortnightly Flexi-Plan. The distance will be challenging but the pace should feel comfortable. So if this run is just about covering miles in a comfortable way one way to do this is just run comfortably!
Turn your watch to the inside of your wrist so you can't see it. Don't check your pace. Don't check your heart rate. Plan a route in advance that meets your target mile requirement and just step out the door. Aim to run at a pace you feel you can maintain for the entire distance and keep this in check by making sure you can talk throughout the run.
This type of easy long run might take some adjustment and might be better for a seasoned runner as it's important to have an idea of what a certain pace feels like. But, try it! Afterwards you can review your pace and your heart rate and think about whether this method worked well for you or if in fact you need that trusted GPS watch.
- Don't look at your watch
- Plan a route of the correct mileage in advance
- Make sure you can 'chat' at all times
- Review your pace and heart rate after the run