3 Reasons I Have Prioritised the LONG SLOW DISTANCE
The Long Slow Distance in my experience is easier said than done. It takes a steely determination to pound the pavements for hours at a time on a regular basis. I absolutely love running but will readily admit that 90 minutes is about the ideal for me. But my experience of doing the 20 milers in training has some significant benefits – both physical and mental!
1. Firstly it is a confidence boost. Even after 10 marathons I think 26.2 is a long way. Doubts constantly creep in…”can I still do that distance?” Of course I can and it is actually very achievable. You just have to condition the body to cope. Do the 20 – 22 milers in training and you will be there on race day knowing you are prepped and ready to go.
2. LSD has brought performance breakthroughs. Within 3 to 4 days of a 20 miler, my legs feel stronger, my endurance is better, and my tempo runs seem far easier. These runs generate real physical adaptation. The confidence is building again. Its quite simple – if you want to run a long distance you must train to do it.
3. Oh those final 6 miles. How do you prepare yourself for them? My LSD is always my final run of the week. In a high mileage week that may be miles 40 – 60. That means a long run on already well used and tired legs. The ultimate way of building long distance endurance – big miles on tired legs. Throw in a performance development section in your LSD, like 8 race pace miles, and you suddenly feel that you are prepared. “My legs can keep race pace going even when they are tired.” Running quickly on tired legs creates physical adaptation (endurance and speed), as well as the confidence that your pins can keep going and going. What last 6 miles?
Paris 2016 is my PB – 2:48:35. What was my preparation like? It is the greatest cumulative mileage I have covered in training in the 16 week build up. And…I completed five 20+ mile runs in the build up, and a number between 15-20. My endurance was as good as it has ever been. I was conditioned to run for well over two hours in training. I had performed regular speed work. I was ready!
Lots of people will tell you about different priorities in endurance training. Few will argue that if one of your weekly runs must take priority – it is the long slow distance.