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Recommendations for the Long Run (Read 285 times)

fellrnr


    Following on from the 'lively discussion' of The Science of the Long Run, I have published some recommendations for the Long Run. Of all the aspects of running that I've written about, few have been as important and difficult as this article. The importance of the Long Run for marathon and ultramarathon training is widely accepted, but the lack of scientific evidence around the Long Run has created conflicting opinions. I've been thinking about this article on the Long Run for many years, and I've been actively working on it for months. The result is 23 guidelines that aim to provide usable advice, accompanied by the underlying rationale. I've also tried to capture alterative views and limitations of the advice by explicitly stating the possible caveats.

     

    Jonathan


    HobbyJogger & HobbyRacer

      Your table says that running 25 miles at MP-15sec is marathon effort?  (I ask b/c that sounds like more than marathon effort to me.)

      It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.

        Wow.. that is way to complicated for me. Just looking at the table of contents made my head spin. Plus, it doesn't match my personal experience. C'est la vie.

         

        Im not sure you can define "novice marathoners" and "experienced marathoners" that way. There are plenty of experienced runners that choose not to run marathons. If they choose to run a marathon, this does not make them a "novice". Just check out the list of elites for the major marathons.

         

        Another thought is that the long run does not exist in a void. It is surrounded by the other runs and workouts. There is that one guy, Alberto S-something, back in the day his long run was short of 20 miles (Im guessing around 16-18). He was pretty good.

         

        That and a 5 hour marathon? A respectable 5k / 10k time or training is more impressive to me.

        All about that bass

          I agree 100%, there is not enough real scientific data behind the long run.

           

          I respectfully disagree with section 4.13 and therefore some of the preceding sections on running for distance rather than time.  There is a distinct trade-off between running time and recovery.  Perhaps it is my own individuality, but back when I could actually run well (i.e. 40 min 10K, sub 24 hour 100 mile), I found that I trouble recovering from any LR over 3 hours long.  For me, the sweet spot was 2.5 hours, in all honesty.  For the slower runners with less experience, a 4+ hour long run is brutal and could possibly even induce rhabdomyolysis, regardless of whether they have worked up to the distance or not.  Two coaches that I regard very highly, Greg McMillan and Nobby Hashizume, both recommend running for time, 3 hours or less, and I believe that long runs in Running Wizard plans are constructed that way.  There are numerous references to the "3 hour barrier".  You even reference Daniels in the other article, suggesting novice's limit time to 2.5 hours. Even though coach recommendations are anecdotal, surely those recommendations are due to observations over many years of what works and what doesn't?

           

          The rules may be somewhat different for ultrarunners, but most people don't run ultras regularly, and there "running" is open to interpretation.

          2013 H1:  7 hours/week base.  Q3: Train for goal race.  Q4:  Goal Race.

          StellarsJJayS


            Logic dictates, that if you wish to run WELL over long distances, you will need to train and prepare yourself over long distances.  Can't be made any simpler than that...and doesn't need to be made more complicated than that.

            There is only one acceptable pace...all out suicide...

            ...and today is a good day to die!

                       --  Pre

              Wow.. that is way to complicated for me.   

               

              Me Too - Confused

              Champions are made when no one is watching


              HobbyJogger & HobbyRacer

                Logic dictates, that if you wish to run WELL over long distances, you will need to train and prepare yourself over long distances.  Can't be made any simpler than that...and doesn't need to be made more complicated than that.

                 

                That sounds logical -- but sounding logical doesn't prove it is absolutely reliable, I think - there is something to be said for valuing experience and experimental data as well as what just sounds reasonable.  Or else the idea of running 5000m as fast as one can, 3-4 times a week, would work out to be much better training for racing 5000m, than turns out to generally be the case.

                 

                Some runners have done very well at the marathon off of mid-distance training. Extreme examples are:

                • Zatopek (a 5K/10K guy), who had a sterling debut marathon
                • Waitz (what was she - a 3K gal, essentially?), who had one of the finest debut marathons in history, I'd say

                It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.

                  I agree 100%, there is not enough real scientific data behind the long run.

                   

                  I respectfully disagree with section 4.13 and therefore some of the preceding sections on running for distance rather than time.  There is a distinct trade-off between running time and recovery.  Perhaps it is my own individuality, but back when I could actually run well (i.e. 40 min 10K, sub 24 hour 100 mile), I found that I trouble recovering from any LR over 3 hours long.  For me, the sweet spot was 2.5 hours, in all honesty.  For the slower runners with less experience, a 4+ hour long run is brutal and could possibly even induce rhabdomyolysis, regardless of whether they have worked up to the distance or not.  Two coaches that I regard very highly, Greg McMillan and Nobby Hashizume, both recommend running for time, 3 hours or less, and I believe that long runs in Running Wizard plans are constructed that way.  There are numerous references to the "3 hour barrier".  You even reference Daniels in the other article, suggesting novice's limit time to 2.5 hours. Even though coach recommendations are anecdotal, surely those recommendations are due to observations over many years of what works and what doesn't?

                   

                  The rules may be somewhat different for ultrarunners, but most people don't run ultras regularly, and there "running" is open to interpretation.

                  I agree with comment about not being enough data on long runs and with your disagreement about time vs distance. fellrnr's table is probably assuming relatively flat asphalt for the numbers since paces are seldom used with hilly routes or trails, not to mention snow-covered whatever.

                   

                  Your last statement on ultrarunners I think touches on the concept of what is a long run. For some, it is pounding relatively flat pavement for hours or distance or whatever with 0 breaks or little variation in surface. Ouch. For others, it's about running up and down soft trails, maybe hiking up some hills (or through snow drift), twisting and turning, maybe a quick snapshot here and an equipment adjust there. That's a very different stimulus than the unrelenting roads, and much easier to recover from. The stimulus and need for recovery may be closer to a long hike. I know I struggle to believe the "3 hour barrier." Heck, when new there was the "1 hour barrier" but training overcame that. Smile  But coming from a profession where 12-hr field days (granted not running, but a lot of time on feet) were not uncommon, I really find it difficult to see a 3 hr barrier. We always still had to hike back to camp - and by gosh, we did that since that's where the hot food and warm sleeping bags were. Why come home from a run after 2.5 hrs when the weather is great, firm snow, etc.

                   

                  More importantly, my understanding of physiological responses to training is that they are based on time and intensity. Importance of energy systems and stimuli vary over time - like 10 sec, 3 min, 1 hr, etc. My long run understanding has always been that the long-run adaptations for ultra runs *start* at 3-4 hours and many people do 6-8 hr long runs. Is a 6-hr marathon different in stresses from a 6-hr 50-mi run/race - other than number of foot impacts?

                   

                  I'll admit I've never heard of rhabdo resulting from 4-hr runs UNLESS the person is dehydrated or using vit I or maybe it's hot. Many people doing 4+ hr runs are usually doing them at an easy effort. Up here, we generally have cooler temperatures, very rarely getting above 70F and a good portion of the year below freezing, so my perceptions might be distorted, as they frequently are.

                   

                  Yes, Running Wizard does stop the long run at 2.5 hr give or take about 15 min. I know Nobby is pretty much against anything longer than that. McMillan's article on long runs does refer to some runs going out beyond 3.5 hrs - but don't do them without fuel. Many of the runners I know are ultrarunners and most think nothing of a 4-hr run / hike / bushwhack - some on a weekly basis, some not quite as frequently. The long runs will either be longer or they find a race to do (not that frequent up here, so they depend on their weekly fun runs). While that sounds like a lot of fun, it is, but the faster runners are working hard during those runs, maybe on their own. Some people just recover faster than others.

                   

                  I've sometimes wondered if the "3-hr barrier" is real or am impression resulting from the people that those coaches usually work with - probably closer to 3-4 hr or faster marathoners than to 6+ hrs. I know JD's paces in his book are fast enough to exclude the slower runners. In some cases, I'm wondering if it's a self-fulfilling prophecy where people don't have any experience with it, try it, have problems, so assume one shouldn't train like that. I don't doubt that that is an issue for some, much the way some people can go longer but not faster and others are faster but not longer. Some of our faster 50 milers were never able to complete 100 miles.

                   

                  I respect your experience and don't doubt what you've felt during training.

                   

                  And I hope that some day, the ground will thaw, the trails will drain and dry, and I can do a decent long run again, rather than on asphalt or snow or slush.

                  "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

                    Your last statement on ultrarunners I think touches on the concept of what is a long run. For some, it is pounding relatively flat pavement for hours or distance or whatever with 0 breaks or little variation in surface. Ouch. For others, it's about running up and down soft trails, maybe hiking up some hills (or through snow drift), twisting and turning, maybe a quick snapshot here and an equipment adjust there. That's a very different stimulus than the unrelenting roads, and much easier to recover from.

                     

                    That's exactly what I was getting at.  4+ hours of pavement pounding is brutal at near marathon pace for most people.  It is a very perverse punishment on people that are slow.  All I can say is this:  if you feel as though you aren't meeting your potential with a few training cycles topping out with a 3 hour long, continuous run, then try going up. Just like our endless debates on race time prediction, an experienced runner generally knows what works and what doesn't.  I am really aiming at the inexperienced, where following a mileage-only plan can result in a 4-5 hour long run because there is something magic about 18, 20, or 22 miles.  Throw in an adverse factor, like taking ibuprofen in order to run through the pain of an injured calf or hamstring, or doing a heavy leg workout and then proceeding with a 4+ hour long run on "tired legs" and the potential for rhabdo is there.

                     

                    Ultrarunning is different, however, because a long run at ultramarathon pace has somewhat different effects.  A 2-3 hour continuous long run at or near marathon pace triggers a significant endurance stimulus, but at 2-3 hours there is an optimization trade-off between endurance stimulus, speed maintenance, and recovery.   That is true virtually regardless of how slow or fast one is, as long as it is continuous running.  If you put in walking breaks, there is a counter-productive recovery period -- I think fellrnr mentions this.  For the long run at ultramarathon pace, the objective to go out at a pace that most would call a recovery pace, which might be 2-3 minutes/mile slower than marathon pace, and maintain a steady effort level, whether it is on a tow path or over hill and dale.  Walking breaks (for me) are a very important aspect of ultramarathon pace.  The periodic recovery allows for substantially more hours of continuous forward motion.  The stress and corresponding stimulus of the ultramarathon long run are on more a systemic level.  It is a chance to figure out fuel and electrolyte needs, as well as getting the intestinal tract trained to process a steady flow of stuff for hours on end.  The effect on training the mind is significant as well.  Again, speaking from this mid-pack experiment of one, somewhere around 5 hours there is a low point that gets easier to work through with each encounter.  I am not sure of the mechanism, perhaps it is just making the release of cortisol come more easily and/or increasing the fat burning affinity and glycogen preservation to a greater degree than a MP-type long run would provide.  Perhaps as well these very long runs build increased heat tolerance and reduce susceptibility for inappropriate ADH secretion. So if you "run" ultramarathons, it is important to do very long runs at ultramarathon pace every-so-often, perhaps once or twice per month.  The downside of these very long runs is that it is difficult to maintain good speed, and recovery is also on a systemic (i.e. endocrine) level rather than just legs.

                    2013 H1:  7 hours/week base.  Q3: Train for goal race.  Q4:  Goal Race.

                    fellrnr


                      Your table says that running 25 miles at MP-15sec is marathon effort?  (I ask b/c that sounds like more than marathon effort to me.)

                       

                      The table uses an approximation of glycogen consumption to estimate the percentage effort. It's far from perfect, but it's the best approach I've thought of so far. I'm open to better models.

                      fellrnr


                        Wow.. that is way to complicated for me. Just looking at the table of contents made my head spin. Plus, it doesn't match my personal experience. C'est la vie.

                         

                        Im not sure you can define "novice marathoners" and "experienced marathoners" that way. There are plenty of experienced runners that choose not to run marathons. If they choose to run a marathon, this does not make them a "novice". Just check out the list of elites for the major marathons.

                         

                        Another thought is that the long run does not exist in a void. It is surrounded by the other runs and workouts. There is that one guy, Alberto S-something, back in the day his long run was short of 20 miles (Im guessing around 16-18). He was pretty good.

                         

                        That and a 5 hour marathon? A respectable 5k / 10k time or training is more impressive to me.

                         

                        I agree that the guidelines are more complex than one would like. I the separation into 'novice' and 'experienced' is a simplification, but I didn't want to further complicate things.

                         

                        Alberto Salazar recommends a 20 mile longest run in his marathon program. While he was pretty good, he also suffered from Overtraining Syndrome for over 10 years.

                        fellrnr


                          I agree 100%, there is not enough real scientific data behind the long run.

                           

                          I respectfully disagree with section 4.13 and therefore some of the preceding sections on running for distance rather than time.  There is a distinct trade-off between running time and recovery.  Perhaps it is my own individuality, but back when I could actually run well (i.e. 40 min 10K, sub 24 hour 100 mile), I found that I trouble recovering from any LR over 3 hours long.  For me, the sweet spot was 2.5 hours, in all honesty.  For the slower runners with less experience, a 4+ hour long run is brutal and could possibly even induce rhabdomyolysis, regardless of whether they have worked up to the distance or not.  Two coaches that I regard very highly, Greg McMillan and Nobby Hashizume, both recommend running for time, 3 hours or less, and I believe that long runs in Running Wizard plans are constructed that way.  There are numerous references to the "3 hour barrier".  You even reference Daniels in the other article, suggesting novice's limit time to 2.5 hours. Even though coach recommendations are anecdotal, surely those recommendations are due to observations over many years of what works and what doesn't?

                           

                          The rules may be somewhat different for ultrarunners, but most people don't run ultras regularly, and there "running" is open to interpretation.

                           

                          Running time rather than distance means that any error in pace has a compounding impact on training stress. Slightly fast also means slightly further. Therefore I believe it is better to recommend 16 miles at 7:30 pace rather than 2 hours at 7:30 pace; if the runner is dead on pace, they are equivalent, but any error in pace has less impact for the distance limited run.

                           

                          The maximum long run is another question, and I think is related to pace. I agree that a 4 hour long run is brutal for a slower marathoner, which is why I recommend that slower marathoners run/walk. It also seams that the length of build up and rate of build up are more important factors for injury and recovery than the length of the longest run. I know runners who do a slow marathon every weekend without a problem, and I know runners who get injured on short distances.

                           

                          BTW, most people don't run ultras, but those that do seem to race far more frequently than most marathoners.

                             

                            That's exactly what I was getting at.  4+ hours of pavement pounding is brutal at near marathon pace for most people.  It is a very perverse punishment on people that are slow.  All I can say is this:  if you feel as though you aren't meeting your potential with a few training cycles topping out with a 3 hour long, continuous run, then try going up. ...

                            I've already been through several years with 6-8 hr long runs when prepping for longer races since I did a couple short ultras (50k, 50mi plus the first 38 of the 50mi several times) before a marathon. I wasn't willing to trust a 38-mi stretch of trail with no aid stations or roads on  3-hr long runs. Wink  (and I'm still not)  The longer long runs have helped me in long races.

                             

                            As you point out, the longer long runs are where you test gear, hydration, electrolytes, fuel, etc. If I start out topped off, I generally don't need anything except a bottle of water for 3hrs, maybe a few M&Ms or whatever is in my emergency food pocket. Hence the short runs aren't providing the training environment needed.  (side note: trail running is a fun activity. To cut runs short - say, 1.5 hr from the trailhead = 3 hr rt - is adding stress to life by removing a fun activity. It's like removing recreation from my life.)

                             

                            The long run model I was introduced to by experienced ultrarunners (online, since I didn't know anybody locally who ran then - about 6 yr ago) was count back 5wk and in the 3 months before that alternate long long run (7-8hr) and b2b long run (4/4 hr) every 2 wk so you have three 7-8 hr long runs and three b2b. Longest long run is 5 wk out, last long run (about 4 hr) is 3 wks out. I modified it to do b2b early in snow season, then single long runs when warmer and could test gear under appropriate summer conditions.

                             

                            "Run" is used loosely in the ultra sense of run or hike or whatever and may include snowshoe running. I usually aim to get the appropriate amount of up and down in (usually whatever is in the race) and whatever time (believing that physiological adaptations are based on time and intensity). The distance takes care of itself. Paying attention to distance alone can leave one undertrained, at least for my races.

                             

                            MTA: I'm not one to use vit I nor do I feel I need it. I used to use it prescription strength when I had achilles issues, but that's not a problem now.

                            "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog