Let’s look at the physiological benefits of the long run and see how pace affects the intended benefit.
The long run is a staple in almost every runner’s weekly training schedule. It doesn’t matter if you’re training for the 5K or the marathon, more than likely, you have at least one day designated as your long run day each week.
However, despite the near universal application of the long run, many runners don’t know how fast they should be running for optimal benefit. If you run too slow, you won’t produce significant stimulus and adaptation. Run too fast and you run the risk of not being recovered for your next run. Making things more difficult, long runs can serve multiple training purposes, each with its own set of intensity and pace recommendations.
So, what is the optimal for your easy long runs? In the next couple pages, I’ll outline the different types of long runs and then examine the scientific literature behind easier long runs to help you determine your ideal pace for those sessions.