As many of you keen runners are aware, Sunday is the the day, every single week, dedicated to the long run. Now the term ‘Long run’ can be loosely portrayed, depending on where you are within your own running. Yet the Sunday run should be the longest run of the week.
It is such an important run, which should be incorporated into every runners weekly schedule. It doesn’t matter if you are an 800m runner, a marathon runner or just a casual ‘plodder’; it will make you fitter and faster.
There are many reasons to include a long run into your routine. Its an easy way to get you used to the longer miles, with you setting off with an intention to go slow and steady for over an hour. When I first started out running, I was an 800m runner, and thought that there was not much point for me running 10+ miles, and I was struggling to improve. As soon as my coach persuaded me of it’s benefits, I reluctantly obliged, and started to see improvements pretty much straight away. Now it’s more of a religion. The Sunday long run is a right of passage. There is a reason College and University teams set off in packs in the early hours of the Sabbath, and run for 90 minutes or more. There can be many benefits of following the same routine; if you are a 5k runner, but you run 14 miles every Sunday, those 3 miles are going to feel even shorter and even sweeter. Plus, the time on your feet can teach your body to push itself once in fatigue.
Now there can be a debate as to the pace your long run should be at. Trust me, living with 6 other athletes, this debate never dies. Personally, I believe that it is dependent on your distance. If you compete in 5k events or shorter, your long run should be long (obviously) and slow. How you determine your ‘slow’ pace, is relative to your tempo pace. For example, my ideal tempo pace is 5:20/mile, so my ‘slow’ pace should be approximately 90 seconds slower per mile, therefore I should do my ‘slow’ long runs at 6:50/mile pace. I will do a future post on tempo and how to determine your tempo pace.
On the other hand, if you compete (or want to compete) in distances over 5k, then your Sunday long runs should be at a ‘moderate’ pace, which can be defined as 35-45 seconds slower per mile than your tempo pace. So for my example, I should be running around 6:00/mile. To put this all into perspective, if i was training for an 800m race, my Sunday long runs would be 13 miles at 6:50/mile pace, or slower. If i was training for a Half Marathon, my Sunday long run should be 15 miles at 6:00/mile pace.
Of course this is all speculative, and many experts and coaches will have different opinions on the matter, but there is one fact that everyone will agree on; the Sunday long run (SLR) is just as important to an athlete as their track and cross country sessions. I highly suggest every runner experimenting with it, and incorporating it into your weekly routine. Do feel free to rise your own views and opinions on the matter.
Once a runner, always a runner.