Running is a hobby that has turned my life around in ways I never expected. It started out as a simple way to get into shape from home and quickly became an activity I truly enjoyed! Running has allowed me to improve my health, help my asthma and even bond with my dog. However, learning to run has proved to be more difficult than I originally expected as well. Learning to train so that I avoided injury and improved my time was a balancing act that was hard learned but necessary. The importance of a weekly long run is a training step that might be daunting to new runners but will benefit you in ways you never imagined!
The Importance of a Weekly Long Run
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Benefits of a Long Run
Increase The Benefits of Your Speedwork
If you are already spending time on shorter faster workouts during the week a long run can help you maximize those benefits. A long run will allow you to stretch out muscles that were pushed hard during sprints, keeping them loose and working but at an easier less daunting pace.
By working muscles and cardio systems that are still recovering from speed work you teach your body to press on even while tired but do so at a pace less likely to cause injury.
Increase Confidence and Mental Strength
Speedwork can give you bragging rights with great times and a good amount of fulfillment but there is nothing quite like learning just how much you’re capable of. Increasing the distance of your long runs can be difficult and should be done safely, however, as you conquer goal after goal distance-wise you will prove amazing things to yourself.
Learning how to push past mental roadblocks and physical stress to accomplish a new goal will increase your body awareness and confidence levels in ways that you might not even realize. You will learn that you are capable of achieving so much more than you originally thought and while it might be a challenge you can and will get through it!
Increasing your Physical Strength
A long slow run every week is great for building overall muscle strength and efficiency. Like almost everything else in our life muscles learn through practice. The long and easy pace of a weekly long run will improve your running form, teach your muscles to use energy more efficiently and increase the strength of connective tissues.
Working together these physical benefits will help you keep a faster pace for a longer period of time. If a faster 5k is your goal a long slow run might seem counterintuitive but is ultimately highly important.
How Do I Add a Long Run to My Training?
Any time that you add distance to your running its important to do so in a safe manner. You can check out our article on how to run farther without hurting yourself for some good tips but the main thing to keep in mind it to add distance slowly and pace yourself to accommodate the longer runs and increase your base mileage.
Contrary to popular belief a ‘long’ run does not have to be extremely long in order to be beneficial – it just has to be a little bit longer than you are used too! The distance can be increased as your training continues but to start out with simply add an extra half mile or 1 mile to one of your weekly runs.
If you are having trouble adding the distance then don’t be afraid to go back to the basics. Use walk/run intervals and remember to check your pace! Many of us are so used to running at our typical pace that it can be difficult to remember to slow down when we up our mileage.
How Often Should I Incorporate a Long Run?
While the benefits of a long run are many and well worth it, it’s also important to continue your training injury free! Increasing mileage should be done slowly. Most runners incorporate one long run a week. Schedules vary but most people find it easier to fit this long run in on the weekend when they have more time.
Adding a long run to your training program will provide you with many benefits and while it might take some time to see those benefits build it will be worth it! So go out there and add some distance to your runs!