Road with yellow line.

Should I do longer runs on the weekend?

The intention of the long run is to build our aerobic energy system. To train this system, we want the heart to work calmly and steady, revving steady at a low speed. This will improve the blood supply of the heart, increase the number and size of the energy power houses (called the mitochondria), and improve the overall strength and endurance of our large, working muscles. We want to run at conversational pace, in a low heart rate (zone 2/3), with a low rate of perceived effort.

By working on these low heart rate/zone 2/3 runs, we are building a reliable farm truck that can withstand the elements, terrain and load placed when working long hours. In another analogy, we are building a house with strong timbers, not toothpicks by working the heart long and steady, without too much stress.

Often our egos get in the way when we do these long runs. We know we can run faster than we are asked to during these long, low heart rate, conversational pace runs.

I spent a whole summer working on the long slow run with my running partner awhile ago. We both knew we could run faster than the program entailed, and for the first 3 weeks, we did not listen to the program, and ran faster. Her and I are both physiotherapist’s and we both knew better so 3 weeks later, we checked our ego’s at the car, reminded ourselves about the intention of the long slow run, (to build our long and steady powerhouses), followed our pace set on our Garmin and stayed true.

It served us so well in the end and it was one of my best training years. A friend that I met running at Brainsport once said to me, “you gotta run SLOW to run FAST”.

So what is the intention of the long run?

  1. To gradually add distance to our running
  2. To gradually loading our joints, tendons and muscles preventing injury.
  3. To improve our aerobic capacity, building the foundations and timbers of the house so it can keep us long lasting runners.

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