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. So, for a half marathon your easy long runs should eventually be 11 miles and for a full marathon your easy long runs should eventually be 21 miles. For smaller 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.

Quick Tips:

- 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!


easy ideas

running by pace

Long runs need to be done at a much slower pace than target race pace. If you do long, fast runs each week you will need too much time to recover. It can feel unnerving to run at a slower pace but long runs are about building endurance and the speed will come from the speed sessions in your training plan. The pace for these long runs should be slow enough that you can hold a conversation but it shouldn't be so slow that your running form is negatively impacted.

Knowing what pace to run can be difficult but aim for 20% slower than target race pace. So, if you want to run a 3.30hr marathon that's an 8min/mile race pace. Long easy runs should therefore be at 9.5min/mile. The idea is to keep this pace consistent throughout the run. It will seem unnatural and too easy at first but once the miles start increasing maintaining the pace becomes more difficult. 

Key Points:

- 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

Heart rates can seem very complicated. Your heart rate is the amount of times your heart beats in a minute and this will increase the harder you work. You can measure your heart rate by taking your pulse. At rest this is usually around 60-70 beats per minute. 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 uses different heart rate zones. For the purpose of 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. So, one option for running easy long runs is to calculate your heart rate for Zone 2 and to 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 get a heart rate strap then the associated apps often guide you through a workout that can 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. So for a 30 year old with a maximum heart rate of 186, their Zone 2 is 130bpm - 149 bpm. 

Key Points:

- 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 in a way be one of the less intense sessions in your fortnight Flexi-Plan. The distance is tough, especially as you build upon it each week, but during the run the strain on your body should be relatively low. As mentioned above, your heart rate and pace shouldn't be too high. So if this run is really 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. 

Key points:

- 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