Finish Fast: Progressive Long Runs
Many experienced marathoners are familiar with the fast-finish long run. Run easy to moderate for half or three-quarters of the run and then finish the last 3 to 5 miles at goal marathon race pace. This is a great workout and a good first step toward making your long runs more marathon-specific; however, if you’ve been training for a long time, you need to increase the stimulus and take this long run to the next level.
The 22-mile progressive fast finish long run starts with 3 miles at an easy pace to warm up. From miles 4 through 12 you’ll target a pace that is 5 percent slower than goal marathon pace. For those of you who struggle with math (like I do!), that’s usually going to be about 15 seconds slower than goal marathon pace, so not a really hard pace, but challenging enough.
Miles 12 through 18 should be run at goal marathon race pace. Not only is this a good way to practice locking into marathon pace on tired legs, but you’re also starting to teach your body to burn fat as your glycogen stores deplete and you have to continue to run at a moderate effort.
Now comes the hard part. Miles 18 through 22 should be run 3-5 percent faster than goal marathon race pace. Three percent is about 10 seconds per mile faster than goal pace for most, or just slower than half-marathon race pace, which will be very difficult. Again, you’ll be low on glycogen and training yourself to mentally and physically push when you’re tired.
Finish off the run with 5 to 10 minutes of of easy jogging to cool down. This is a hard effort and you need to recover accordingly in the following days before undertaking your next hard session.