Do you love your long run days? Ok maybe love is too strong of an adjective here? But to be honest, I don’t mind them. In fact, there are weeks when I really look forward to hitting the roads for 2 or 3 hours, (except maybe not when it’s 10 below zero) and I always have this feeling of accomplishment when I am done. I am not crazy everyone….just in love with running, especially Long Distances.
When I first started running and doing marathons…a long time ago, I didn’t really know a lot about running. Granted I did ok in my first marathon, but it was nearly a decade later before I ran another one. This year I’ll be running number 22, or is it 23? I’m not quite sure, but I do know I’ll continue to run until I can’t anymore.
I also have to admit, some of my favorite runs during my build up of milage is my long runs. Early in my training they start out at 10 miles and increase to 20….yes that’s right, 20 miles. To be perfectly honest, some runners will go beyond 20 and others, may only do 18 as their longest run. You’re thinking, only 18 miles…seriously. Yes that’s a very respectably distance too?.
I’m definitely no expert but Hal Higdon is and I have used several of his programs throughout my running journey. There is a good mix from beginners to advanced, but feel free to use whatever works for you.
In fact since getting older, (approaching my mid fifties) I’ve had to adjust my training slightly adding in an extra rest day but keeping the quality of my runs fairly high. In other words, my long runs are not just a slow long distance run (LSD). One of my favorites ways to run my long run happens to be a Progression run which can be done one of two ways.
Progression 1-2 Punches:
Seriously if you’re going to run for 2 plus hours, why not make it more fun right! I have been doing some long runs like this for years and have found they are quite effective, and fun. The Progression element is simply that each third of the long run is progressively faster than the previous third of the run….remember to begin much slower than your current long run pace (LSD), and finishing at or faster than current marathon pace.
Don’t get hung up on exact pacing in each 3rd. Its more of a gradual pickup throughout, rather than a marked 30 sec/mile immediate shift at particular mike markers. As long as you start noticeably slower than usual LSD pace, and finish at or a little faster than current marathon pace. In fact, if you’re over-all average pace is still fairly close to original usual LSD, you nailed it?.
The “1-2 Punch” element is doing that critical “easy” run within about 24 hrs before you plan to do the next day’s Progression run. This teaches the body to start a long run on “not fresh” legs, and continually pick up the pace, such that the last few miles are done at the quickest pace and certainly highest effort (not highest effort possible, just highest within the run). You’ll notice in Hal’s programs he has a variation of this as well.
If needed, you can also do your progression run first and the next day an easier run. For example, if you’re planning on a 18 mile progression run, try running about 8 miles the day before your long run. or vs versa. What happens is you’ll replicate the tired leg syndrome you’ll most likely encounter on race day.
Here is an example of one of mine. The toughest part for me is putting on the brakes the first few miles. However, if you can manage to stay at a much slower pace in the beginning, you’re much more likely to finish your progression run on target. It’s kind of fun if you do it right. I love it when I can sprint through that last mile.
Have you ran these types of Progression Runs in the past? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please let me know if you try this…and Have Fun!