In light of my previous thoughts on tempo running… here’s an idea for a long run workout. Basically, it’s like a long, stretched out low key speed workout.
- Warm up with easy running for about 1 mile.
- Run 10 minutes at your desired marathon /half/15K/whatever tempo, or (if conditions won’t allow it) at a similar relative intensity
- Then run easy for 5 minutes.
- After that, again, run 10 minutes at tempo.
- Then, again, run easy for 5 minutes.
- Repeat until finished.
It’s pretty simple in structure, even if in practice it’s not so easy.
- This is basically an interval workout built into a long run.
- You can practice race pace or intensity within the challenge of a long run, without having to hold that pace for the entire run or build the entire workout around it.
- Later tempo reps in the workout help simulate the fatigue of later miles in an injury-safer controlled setting.
- You challenge yourself for a few minutes at a time, then catch your breath and recover with easier running.
- And throughout all of this, you’re also getting the important aerobic development of a long run.
- This workout is a fine middle ground for intermediate runners training for a 10K or longer race, who want to improve their race times or hit a goal time.
- It may be more productive and efficient than doing a hard midweek speedwork session, and then a separate long slow run on the weekend.
- Even if you fail in some way at running your desired pace… you still get all the benefits of a speedwork session AND a long run, without unduly taxing yourself.
In fact, if you don’t have a ton of training time during the week, doing this on the weekend as your only non-easy workout might work best for you. It can be your one key workout, while you can mix in whatever easy running you can do through the rest of the week. It takes a lot of pressure off of training, while ensuring you still do quality training that can prepare you for race day.
Another great aspect about this approach is, for most mid-pack marathoners, the tempo segments usually line up perfectly with the amount of time it takes to run between water/aid stations. You can carry hydration or other fuel, and practice fueling/drinking every time you hit a rest interval.
Sure, the easy run intervals are much longer than it would take you to get through an aid station. But this is not a full practice for a race, and you don’t want to subject your body to a full race during a workout anyway.
The easy running not only pads this into a true long run, but gives you ample time for your body to recover for the next bout of tempo.
If you want to seriously practice race fueling during this workout, you can take a swig of water/fuel right at the end of an easy segment, and make sure to hit a full dose once the tempo segment ends.
Or, if you plan to keep running hard while drinking/fueling at aid stations, it may be best to fuel in the middle of a tempo segment, to practice doing so at full speed.