What is the purpose of your long run?
The first step to determining the pace of your long run is assessing the purpose and intensity of the run itself.
Not all long runs are created equal. Some long runs are designed to simulate marathon conditions or teach you how to finish fast. These types of long runs are considered a hard workout and you should have extra recovery days scheduled after your session to recover accordingly.
On the other hand, some long runs are done at an easier pace and lesser intensity to build aerobic endurance and put “time on your feet”. These types of long runs aren’t exactly recovery runs, but they aren’t designed to be hard, either.
A well-written training schedule will make the intensity or goal of a long run clear. Understanding the purpose of your long run is important because long runs are just one piece to the training puzzle.
For example, race-specific long runs are an integral part of a training plan and can help take your running to the next level. However, if your long run is designed to be a relatively easy day and you run too hard, you’ll start your next workout too fatigued and risk poor performance and injury.
Race-specific long runs in half marathon and marathon training have predefined paces aimed at helping you get more comfortable at running race pace. But what about those “easy” long runs on your schedule? How fast should they be? And why?