How long should your long run be?

How long should your long run be? Long runs or endurance workouts are a staple in all running training programs. So it is no wonder the subject is under constant debate. In this article, we show you how we look at the topic.

Well, the question has a simple and very fuzzy answer: It depends.

The long and not so fuzzy answer, however, is this…

Escalate your training

First, don’t over-do your training – ease into it. If you do not already have an overall training plan for your season to follow, you could set up a 4-week escalation training plan.

So, download our free template and start planning for your best season ever.

Defining your baseline – Are you long run ready?

Second, we have to look at where your starting point is, what your goal is and where in your season you are.

The long-run will be different depending on your level of running fitness. If you are new to running or aren’t doing it as much, the percentage of your weekly mileage spent on your long session will be higher than for a more experienced runner. It has to do with the total workload that you put your body under.

“The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”

haruki murakami

What is your goal – Does this session improve your fitness?

Now, taking a look at what your goal is. Are you planning to do a fast 10k, or, is it the marathon that you long for? If you are aiming for a 5- or 10-kilometer race. Then aim to do sessions up to 90-minutes. If that doesn’t get the job done. Run for longer, but you shouldn’t exceed 120 minutes. So, be careful about going for too long. That will put to much stress on your body, and will take away from your next session. As always, recovery is the key to successful training! Also, include running drills into your training!

Are you aiming for long-distance, like an ironman, full course swimrun or marathon?

Sure, the milage will increase. but Time under tension is most important. If you are aiming to do an Ironman, the heavy toll a really long long-run takes on your body will affect you more than what is beneficial. Instead, try a brick-session, i.e Biking and running in a continuous effort. Or, divide your long run so that you are running both Saturday and Sunday.

Endurance training zones

We have a full article about the training zones and intensity in our training philosophy series. Here is a quick guide to zone 2, which is the heart rate zone that you will be working out in for most of your long sessions.

Training in lower zones will give you an effect over the whole spectrum. Training in zone 2 and zone 3 will push your functional threshold upwards. This is because of the work done in the lower zones, will widen your range of those zones, and that will help to push your zone 4 upwards.

So, what is zone 2? Well, it is the heart rate that sits between Zone 2 – 85-89% of LHTR (LTHR – Lactate Threshold Heart Rate). So, the numbers are there, but what does it mean? It is an effort in which you can keep a conversation going, and maintaining proper form throughout. To define your zone 2. We suggest that you regularly test your abilities and adjust since this is measured on a sliding scale.

All our training programs start with testing your baseline fitness so that your training will be relevant to you. Check out our BOOST UP – Run program if you want to lift your running to the next level!

“Running is about finding your inner peace, and so is a life well lived.”

Dean Karnazes

Where in the season are you?

And lastly, where are you in your training cycle? Are you just starting up with training again for the season? Don’t over-do your training, ease into it, The distance will come. You will add up to it slowly but surely.

So, can all this talk be quantified in any way?

Well, start your long runs between 20-30 percent of your total workload. If you are new to endurance sports, keep to the higher percentile.

In our training programs, we seldom have long runs exceeding 90-minutes. And topping out at 120 minutes. Anything longer will take to big of a toll off of your training. Doesn’t sound that much? Don’t worry, we got you covered with swimming, biking, and cross-training.

Need help with an escalation plan?

If so, please register below and we will send you a free copy of our 4-week training plan template.

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