THE LONG RUN

Runners all over the world, week in and week out add ‘A Long Run’ to their training. One question that I am often asked is, ‘How long should my long run be?’
Now of course, there is no one answer and before you can even begin to answer that question, you need to ask two important questions:
  1. What am I training for? (This will usually be a race or target event)
  1. What date is the event in question 1?
When you know the answers to 1 and 2, you can start to formulate a plan and this then will begin to give a better understanding to ‘the long run’ question. It is also very important to consider experience and running history.
If you are used to running 5km and 10km events, a long run for you may well be 75-90 minutes. If you are a marathon runner, your long run will typically be 21/22 miles or 3 to 3.5-hours. If you are running an ultra, mmmmm, well, this is where it gets tricky.
WHY DO WE RUN LONG?
In summary, we put an emphasis on three key points:
Efficiency to use fat as a fuel.
Muscular and physical adaptation.
Mental strength.
If you never run for more than one hour in training, then three hours on your feet just feels like a really long time so you need to adapt for the challenge ahead both from a physical and mental perspective.
Have you had sore legs from running?
We have all been there, it comes from running fast and hard and building up lactic acid or it comes from running long and fatigue. Muscle soreness will come for everyone, however, we can train to reduce the impact or delay the process. This why we ‘train,’ we train to get better! Progressively running longer with recovery periods allows our muscles to adapt to the stress and become stronger. The term DOMS refers to the ‘Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness’. You may well feel muscle pain during a training event or race but it’s usually in the 24/48/72-hour period after that the soreness really kicks in. By running long in training we adapt to delay or reduce the DOMS.
You need fuel to do anything, even a shopping trip. Our bodies can only store so much carbohydrate and once those stores are used up we have only two options left: top them up or slow down and maybe even stop if they have got very low. As an endurance athlete we need to tap into our almost unlimited fat stores. We do this by ‘teaching our body’ to use fat as a fuel in the long run. The more efficient you become at this, the longer you can run and the longer you can maintain a pace. Ultimately it means the whole race/training experience will be better and more enjoyable.
THE RUN
Let us be clear here, running longer requires a slower pace, especially if we want to ‘turn on’ fat burning. Think of long runs in terms of time and not distance. Distance adds some confusion and also as runners we get stressed and worried by mileage and minute per mile pace. Mileage does not always tell us the full story too… Time on feet takes into consideration the terrain we are running on, for example in three hours on the road you may well cover 20-miles, but on the trails or in the mountains you may only cover 12-miles.
This brings in another very important and key point, make long runs specific and in line with your objectives. No point doing three hours on the road if you are doing a 50 mile mountain race with 4000m of vertical gain.
Slow down! Many runners run the long run too hard which impacts on the following days’ training and it also impacts on the long run session. Maybe use a heart rate monitor or GPS to keep on top of this and don’t worry about walking. Walking is a key element in completing ultra distance events. I am a huge fan of RPE – Rate of Perceived Exertion. Long runs (mostly, there are exception) should feel easy and on a scale of 1-10, that means a 5.
HOW LONG SHOULD THE LONG RUN BE?
Short distance runners often run over distance in training. Think about it, a 10km runner may run a long slow half marathon to build endurance. A half marathon runner may run a long and slow steady 16 miles in preparation for a fast race.
This all falls apart when we go to the marathon and beyond. How often have you heard in marathon training that the long run should be 21/22 miles or 3 hours and 30 minutes in preparation for a race.
So how do you run long in ultra training?
Long runs and adapting for an endurance run such as an ultra comes from not one run but a combination of all runs. It’s about your accumulative run history. They all add up to make you an endurance machine.
First and foremost, consistency is key and long runs should be progressive and based on ability and experience. A long run should test you but not break you.
Let’s use a 12-week scenario based on a runner who can currently run two hours in a long run. I am not looking at base training here, but the specifics of a long run and how to make the long run longer. I’m a big fan of building over three weeks and recovering for one week, I call this 3/1.
Example:
Month 1
Week 1 – Sunday 2:30hrs
Week 2 – Sunday 2:45hrs
Week 3 – Sunday 3:00hrs
Week 4 – Sunday 2:00hrs
Month 2
Week 1 – Sunday 2:45hrs
Week 2 – Wednesday 90min / Sunday 3:00hrs
Week 3 – Wednesday 90min/ Sunday 3:15hrs
Week 4 – Sunday 2:30hrs
Month 3
Week 1 – Wednesday 90min/ Sunday 3:00hrs
Week 2 – Wednesday 1:45hrs/ Sunday 3:30hrs
Week 3 – Wednesday 2:00hrs/ Sunday 4:00hrs
Week 4 – Wednesday 60min/ Sunday 3:00hrsh
The above scenario provides a structured example on how to build up from running two hours comfortably to four hours. But remember the above scenario is 12 weeks with over 37 hours of running, just in the long runs! That is huge and a great place to start for any endurance challenge.
BUT MY RACE IS 50 MILES?
As mentioned above, it’s not wise or sensible to run too long in anyone session (for most people, there are always exceptions.) But the 12-week plan above on a 3/1 scenario shows you how it’s possible to build time and confidence. As you gain more experience you can look at doing back-to-back sessions and plan long training weekends all as part of a long term plan. Ultimately though, running too long in terms of distance or time is something that should be very carefully planned.
For example:
Month 3
Week 1 – Wednesday 90min/ Saturday 2:00hrs & Sunday 3:00hrs
Week 2 – Wednesday 1:45hrs/ Saturday 90 mins & Sunday 3:30hrs
Week 3 – Wednesday 2:00hrs/ Saturday 3:00hrs & Sunday 4:00hrs
Week 4 – Wednesday 60min/ Sunday 3:00hrs
You will always here about runners who can do 200 mile weeks or 50-mile training runs; they are exceptions and not the norm. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security and don’t feel inadequate, we are all individuals and this is maybe the most important aspect.
Training should be about preparing you to tackle the challenge, but it will never FULLY prepare you. There’s always going to be a bit of extra and a bit of unknown on the day of the event…
Surely that’s why you’ve entered the race or event?

Why not join our TRAINING CAMP with 2x MDS champion, Elisabet Barnes, on the stunning island of Lanzarote? Information HERE

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Northern Traverse 2016 – Day 1 Summary

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St Bees on the west coast of the UK witnessed the start of the 2016 Northern Traverse – a 190km route that crosses the north of England through three National Parks finishing in Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast. Taking in iconic mountains, valleys, moors and over 16,000 feet of ascent, the Northern Traverse is a truly spectacular and challenging event.

Starting 1000 today, the race has now been going for 12-hours and pre-reace favourite and SPINE winner, Eoin Keith is charging away into the night. It’s been an incredible first day with wall-to-wall sunshine.

As darkness envelopes the fells, it’s head-torch time or sleep time. However, you can follow ‘live’ on trackers and watch the action unfold HERE.

Here are a selection of images from day 1 primary the start in St Bees, Ennerdale, Honister Pass and Patterdale.

More images and updates tomorrow.

Race website http://www.northerntraverse.com

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The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 6

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Day 6 was ’just’ 45 miles and what a day – the longest day of the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. The early stages were remote and isolated but in the latter stages, the mountains loomed and single-track trail lead the runners into camp. It was another day of wall-to-wall sunshine and many are saying, me included, that we may never come back to Scotland as the weather could never be this good again!

The views, the scenery, the landscape and the mountains have been magical – almost alpine! It has been quite an amazing week and journey. Of course, the race is not yet over.

Day 6 was a long day and not all runners made the finish but those that did were all home by 2100 hours. With over 30 miles tomorrow for stage 5, it is starting to look likely that many who start tomorrow will finish the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. But as Shane Ohly says, ‘After this many days running, bodies, minds and legs are tired and stage 7 is a tough day, certainly over the first half!’

Marcus Scotney and Ita Emanuela Marzotto, once again were the male and female 1st placed runners on the day, that is 6 out of 6 for Scotney and in all honesty, he made it look it easy.

Thomas Adams gain ran a strong 2nd and Andrew Biffen/ Stuart MacDonald, for the ladies, Laura Watson finished 2nd and Louise Staples 3rd.

Overall standings after day-6

Marcus Scotney 32:21:17

Thomas Adams 34:22:47

Pavel Paloncy 39:31:48

Ita Manuela Mariotto 49:03:02

Laura Watson 51:18:08

Louise Staples 52:11:49

 

Follow the Cape Wrath Ultra live on http://www.capewrathultra.com

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The Long Run – How long should it be?

The Long Run

Recently I have produced several articles (links below) on planning your training, walking for ultra running, base training, speed work and now I ask the question, how long should the long run be?

Short distance runners often run over distance in training. Think about it, a 10km runner may run a long slow half marathon to build endurance. A half marathon runner may run a long and slow steady 16-miles in preparation for a fast race.

This all falls apart when we go to the marathon and beyond. How often have you heard in marathon training that the long run should be 21/22 miles or 3 hours and 30 minutes in preparation for a race.

Long runs and adapting for an endurance run such as an ultra comes from not one run but a combination of all runs. It’s about your accumulative run history. They all add up to make you an endurance machine.

First and foremost, consistency is key and long runs should be progressive and based on ability and experience. A long run should test you but not break you.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON RUNULTRA HERE

Make sure you catch up on other resources that will help you plan your 2016 season:

Planning a Running and Racing Year HERE

To Base Train or not To Base Train? HERE

Base Training HERE

We also have a series of articles on walking and climbing:

Training to Walk for Ultra, Trail and mountain Races HERE

Walking, Running and Climbing with Trekking Poles HERE

Running and Walking Efficiency when Climbing HERE

You know you are an Ultra Runner when… ?

I asked the question on Facebook and I got an incredible response. In actual fact, the answers keep coming in, so, I will try to add and update on a regular basis.

But here goes… ‘You know you are an Ultra Runner when… ?’

Look at some of the names who have posted too. A few Talk Ultra interviewees crop up.

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Holly Rush you consider running to your friend’s house for lunch and she lives 30 miles away…

Carl Wibberley A marathon is a training run.

Ben Wittenberg You sell your road bike to buy a Fenix gps.

Wayne Sylvester 26.2 sounds like an aid station.

George Knights you can count your toenails on one hand.

Chris Beaven You’re diagnosed with atrial fibrillation…

Ceri Careful Roberts When you’ve vomited all over yourself, then get going again.

Dave Douglas One minute you swear you’ll never do it again, the next your’e looking at a bigger challenge!

Brock Currie Instead of memorizing what street you need to turn right on, you need to remember what city the street is in.

Nick Molina half of the dishes you take out of your dishwasher are water bottles.

Todd Fultz When you substitute (in conversation) hours ran, instead of miles ran…..

Scott Harris you take the time to read all the comments nodding approvingly at each one.

Carter Swampy You have wiped with a $15 pair of socks.

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Karin Walder when you Change your Garmin to a Suunto because the Garmin only lasts 8 hours.

Tony Villano When you’re reading posts from Talk Ultra.

BE Murphy The length of the Adelaide Hills just because it is beautiful…

Sam Robson How do you know you’re an ultra runner and not a trail runner though? Or a mountain runner? Or a mountain trail runner? Or a…

Scott W. Kummer When duct tape becomes an option!

Sarah Girard Am I an ultra runner when I think of running through nature for 100 km as romantic and beautiful? I have never done more than 46km though.

Иван Димитров when… you run a mountain 100k, then hop on a mountain bike and do the route a second time in hope to make it to the cut-off time…

Gary Robbins You spend three hours listening to a podcast about ultra running…entirely while running…and it wasn’t even your long run.

Catra Corbett waking up at 3am and thinking you have to get ready to run a 100 miler. Realizing you don’t have another race for 3 weeks. LOL.

Nige Webber When you injure yourself and are told not to run for 2 weeks and you interpret that as one week.

Paul PT McCleery When you have to repeat the distance of your next race to everyone !

Jeffrey Wong you take pictures of your disgusting feet and then post them on Facebook: proudly!

James Short Your long run involves a train ride to get home.

Jeremy Spainhour That moment you realize you know more about running injuries than your PT… and you stop going to him.

Tammy Clauser Wuerth When you feel like you’re like giving birth to a baby. Then you say you will never do it again …but after a short break and a little foreplay you are ready to do it all over again:-)

Adam Lloyd When you need 3 shits in one race.

Dreama Lehman when you are not even sore after putting a 90 mile week in!

Russell Thomas when you go to bed before the dog!

Todd Fultz When you find yourself after 4-5 hours running singing to the trees, & every now then you swear something’s singing back!

Helen MacDermott Peeing in a toilet seems … unnatural.

Francis Pardo 1. You are signed up for more than one ultra at any given time. 2. When you think of a race and say: that’s equal to “x” number of marathons.

Ed Kumar When a dark moment lasts 20k or more and you’re fine with it.

Majo Majo You have more shoes than your girlfriend.

Chris Bair When there is no such thing as too much.

Johannes Kind When you run the last 20K on a sprained ankle.

Steve Blythe You check Talk Ultra on FB when you’re out with your wife!

David Mould 26.2 miles is speed work.

Tim Steele Your race outlasts your Garmin and two sets of headlamp batteries.

Ben Brindley When you decide running dusk till dawn is a great idea.

Darren Hutchings People say there’s something wrong with you.

Tim Steele You have more difficulty with the taper than with the race.

Neisa Condemaita When you apply super glue to your blisters so you can keep running.

Paul Beck a 4+ hour training run is your weekly long run, followed up by 2+ hours the next day.

Matthias Kodym you peel off the skin from your heels and think about the next run.

Scott W. Kummer you utter the words “only a 50”!

Paul Wathan you pick 210km with 14,000ft of elevation gain in a race to complete as your first distance over the marathon! 

Mike Saporito 3-4 hour runs are recovery runs.

Mark Connolly You are injured.

Marissa Harris Only a 50 miler, It’s just a day race!

Steve Perkins You finish your first 50 miler then go home to sign up for a 100.

Martin Bell You just keep going!

Dat Le 50K’s become training runs for 100 milers.

Kate Driskell You enter a 50km race 3 weeks before the race, having done no specific training for anything in the last 5 months, having not run further than 9km in the last  five months, have never run a marathon by itself ever, run the race, start at the back and pass half of the field of athletes in the last 5km of the race and run at pretty much the same pace through the whole 50km. Then enter an 80km race in 6 months time to have something to do after you get all of those pesky triathlons out of the way (they’re cross-training anyway, right?).

Steel Town Runner …the Barkley Marathons doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea!

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