Some thoughts on how to master that marathonRunners and athletes in general, are all an experiment of one. A long run strategy that works for one may not necessarily work for another. The only tried and true successful plan is one that supports individual goals, limitations, personalities, time constraints, and abilities. As I remind my athletes who are prone to stress if they miss a workout, “There will be over 30,000 runners at the start of the Boston Marathon and there will be 30,000 different training plans that got them there.” Like diets, political parties, collegiate football teams and cars, there is no singular system that works for everyone. Thank goodness, right? If so, the world would be a boring place and coaches would be out of a job if there were only one plan to adhere to.
Four Different ApproachesThere are many world-renowned experts who have developed foundations for long run and marathon success. Their philosophies differ, allowing athletes the versatility of using a strategy that meets their needs at any given time. Here are four common ways to approach your long run.
- Run/Walk Method: Run for a pre-determined amount of time (ex. 5 min) at a pace that is just slightly slower than goal pace. Then, walk for a planned amount of time for recovery (ex. 1 minute). This helps build endurance while minimizing stress.
- Long Slow Run: Run the entire distance at 1:00-2:00 minutes slower than race pace. Great time on your feet and aerobic endurance building. Minimize breaks.
- Progressive Run: Start long run at 1:00-2:00 minutes slower than race pace and gradually increase pace throughout the run. You will still finish slightly slower than race pace, but you are training your body and mind to run a negative split
- Long Run with Goal Pace Miles: Start long run at 1:00-2:00 minutes slower than race pace. Then, run a certain number of miles at your goal pace. Finish run with several miles 1:00-2:00 minutes slower than race pace.