To many runners, Sunday is the day of the 'Long One'. This is the day when you walk out of your front door, usually at an ungodly hour, check your GPS has locked on, you've stashed a gel or two into the bum pocket of your tights and you begin running. Your not expected to stop running for at least an hour, possibly more. It's the stuff Sunday's are made for. But why do we do this madness?
Monday to Friday tends to consist of varied training covering different aspects of training. There will be speed work, strength work such as hills or beach running, cross training such as cycling or swimming. Yoga and Pilates are beginning to get more of liking also and for very good reason. All of these types of training will yield very worth while gains in your fitness but in reality, all those gains have to be built on a good strong level of aerobic base fitness and this is where the 'Sunday Long Run' comes into its own.
Many people have asked me what the ideal pace is for a long endurance run. I could talk technical referring to things like ventilation thresholds, lactate thresholds, VO2 Max percentages, heart rate zones or be as specific as saying 90 seconds to 120 seconds per mile slower than target race pace but it's simpler than that. I like to say 'conversational pace'. You should be able to maintain a conversation with your training partner and not be gasping for air. If you're training alone, try this. If you can't say, out loud, 'one hundred and one, one hundred and two.......one hundred and five' without having to pause and gasp for air then your running to fast and should slow down.
'But what are the benefits of running slow?'
Many have asked. 'Surely to train to run faster you need to run fast?'
Speed work is important but this is what is going on in the slow run.
This list is not exhaustive but it does highlight why the Sunday Long Run is an essential part of your weekly training. As I write this, it's Sunday, so I need to get my running shoes on and hit the road.