The long run session is a staple part of many triathletes training sessions. But a long run shouldn’t just be about running for a long time.
Written By Mackenzie Madison
Is your definition of a long run simply running for a long time? While putting in the aerobic training time is beneficial, there are huge gains you can make by adding some intensity into your long runs. Here are some of the benefits:
Increased quality: As a triathlete, you have to juggle the training and recovery of three sports. Long runs with intensity give you the benefits of two workouts in one, meaning more quality for the miles put in.
Increased speed: It helps you run faster and easier across all training zones. You’ll see improvements in threshold and increase that one-speed wonder endurance pace you’ve had for quite some time. You’ll also be able to hold close to or on threshold pace longer.
Increased race-day confidence: Running long and including intensity increases your overall comfort at race pace. Challenging the body to tap into the next gear while experiencing fatigue makes sustaining threshold for longer periods easier and allows you to sustain an even faster threshold when you’re fresh.
Increased variety: Instead of the same old long run, you get to break the pattern of boredom and give your body a new training stimulus for stronger adaptations. Plus, it makes the time go by faster.
If you’re a beginner, it’s best to complete your long run at a steady endurance pace to ensure proper aerobic adaptations— and that you can successfully run the necessary duration. In the following week, instead of increasing your overall long run duration, add the intensity into your long run, particularly toward the end. Keep alternating increasing time and then intensity, and by repeating the pattern, running longer will seem easier and you’ll get there faster.
If you are an experienced triathlete, add intensity to your next long run with one of these workouts.
Progressive tempo finish:
Start easy and work into your endurance pace for the first half. For the second half slowly decrease your mile pace by about 5–10 seconds so that you finish the last quarter or couple of kilometres at your goal race pace or faster.
Middle mile intervals:
Warm up at a comfortable pace for the first quarter of your long run. Run two to six 1.5K repeats starting at threshold then dropping 5–10 seconds off each 1.5K repeat. Recover for a kilometre between each mile at endurance pace or slightly faster. Finish your long run at a stronger endurance pace, with the last 1.5K run slowly for a cool-down.