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The Importance Of Long Runs In Your Training

 As Summer winds down and cooler weather slowly begins to set in, many runners begin to think about or are already planning to do a Fall marathon.  While there aren’t many full marathons held in the Summer due to the heat,  marathons are plentiful in the Fall and make a great goal race after months of training and shorter races.  Most runners realize the importance of the long run, since daily miles and shorter races will not be enough to conquer 26.2 miles.  Even if your goal race is only a half marathon, long runs (maybe not quite as long) will still play a major role in your race day success.     

There are several factors to consider when doing long runs;  the first is length.  You should slowly build the mileage of your long runs week by week to gradually adapt to the longer distance.  You should not increase the long run by more than a mile or two per week.  Fortunately, by doing this, the shorter long runs will be done earlier in Fall when the heat and humidity can still be high, and the really long runs will be later in the season when it tends to be cooler.  You don’t need to do a long run every single week,  easier or lower mileage weeks should also be incorporated in your training. Your last long run should be three weeks before your goal race.   

The next long run factor to pay attention to is your fuel.  Our muscles typically store enough energy, in the form of glycogen, to last for about 90 minutes of running. Your long runs will undoubtedly be longer than 90 minutes, so you definitely need to take in some form of fuel.  Fuel belts like the Nathan flip belt are a great way to carry items such as Gu’s, Honey Stingers, and small bottles of water. You’ll want to use these products before you begin the run and drink extra so you don’t get behind on energy and hydration.  Another great product is Glukos. It provides fast absorbing, liquid energy for fuel and hydration, and can fit in the pockets of most running apparel. It’s also a good idea to eat something more substantial immediately after your long run, like a Picky Bar, to start replenishing the energy you lost, instead of waiting for your next meal.

Another important thing to consider for your long runs is your pace and your shoes.  I’m including these together because they directly relate to each other.  You never want to do a long run on worn out shoes, this will make you susceptible to injuries.  You will have some long runs that you want to run fairly hard or even somewhat close to your marathon goal pace.  For these runs, you will want to wear a similar shoe to what you will be racing your marathon in.  Popular marathon shoes include the Hoka Carbon X and the Saucony Endorphin Pro.  You will not want to do harder paced long runs on back to back weeks,  it’s good to simulate your expected marathon effort but remember these runs will take a lot out of you. Slower, more relaxed pace, long runs should be mixed into your training to continue building your endurance, but make it easier for your body to recover.  For these runs, use your favorite daily training shoe or a more cushioned style like the Hoka Bondi or the Brooks Glycerin.     

Good luck with your long runs and Fall races, and remember you can stop in at the store for all of your shoe, fuel, and hydration needs. We’re also always here for any additional advice you might need for your upcoming races.

About the author: A.J. is the Store Manager at AppRunCo – Altoona. He lives in Altoona and has been a competitive runner for over 20 years.