The Long Run

Perceived Effort: Easy/ Moderate

Aerobic Zone: Low to Middle

Long runs are the backbone to any distance runners program.  The RK POD programs are no different.  Long runs should be run at your Long Run Pace according to the Training Zones Chart (link).  This means easy.

These sessions are run in the easy to middle aerobic zones.

e.g. If you have a goal marathon time of 3 hours 30 minutes, Goal Race Pace is 4:58/km, then your long runs should be run at 5:38 – 6:20.  This will feel and should feel easy.  Your perceived effort should be easy.

These are however some exceptions to the rule.  As you grow in aerobic strength and your threshold is pushed up, you can run long runs at your middle aerobic zone, perceived effort is moderate.  You may also include 20/40 minutes at the end of the long run at Goal Race Pace.  But do not rush into this.  After all, you will run in the aerobic zone on race day.

Training at high intensity during long runs, (perceived effort hard), leaves you exhausted and takes longer to recover, not to mention leaving you exposed to injury.

The RK POD program recommends that you include long easy rolling hills in your long run when your body can cope with regular 25 km long runs.

The physiological benefits of long runs.

• Strengthens the heart/ pumps more blood per stroke.
• Develops leg strength for endurance.
• Improves fat burning as a fuel so stored glycogen can be use later in the run.
• Increases capillary growth within the muscles.

All of which increases the efficiency of the aerobic system.

• Increases number and size of mitochondria.

With oxygen present, mitochondria break down carbohydrates, fat and protein into energy.

The more mitochondria you develop through long runs, the more energy you can produce while running.