Whether a new runner or an experienced runner, a weekly long run should be part of your running program. Long runs have a lot of benefits that include helping you to run faster in your shorter distances (like a 5K) and run farther if you are looking to increase mileage.
The long run is not about speed; it is about covering the distance. The goal of the long run is to train your body to run longer distances and train your mind that you can run longer distances. Your long run should be completed at the end of your training week. It is also a good idea to take a day of rest prior to your long run and also rest or cross train the day after your run for recovery.
How running long helps you get faster
Some people think that to run a faster 5K or other distance, you should go out and run those distances at a faster pace. That is easier said than done (and your body will tell you that with the heavy breathing and panting). Incorporating long runs into your weekly program will get your body used to running longer, improving your cardio and helping you build endurance. With your body (and mind) capable of working for a longer period of time, over time you will see that you are stronger and more capable at running faster at shorter distances.
Try and you will be surprised
Still not sure is long running is for you? Give it a try for a few weeks and see how they help your running. Long runs are a great way to safely increase mileage, helps you run faster (along with other types of weekly runs) and will build better cardio and endurance. If you are running to lose weight, the long run will also burn more calories.
Don't be afraid to take some walk breaks into your long runs as you start this program or increase your mileage.Try to take your mind off of pace (other than running too fast) or time and just go out and cover the distance. If you need to take a walk break, do it.
Practice what I preach? Sure thing! I am in the process now of building my running distance to move from spring 5Ks to summer 10K and half-marathon training. So my weekend isn’t complete until I run my long run.
I will keep you posted on my progress and hope that you keep me posted on yours.