Long runs are the most important session of the week for the marathon as they re the key to building endurance. Here are some tips on getting the most out of your long run;
the only thing you can do wrong on a long run is run it too fast! You need to be going nice and gently to build your endurance fitness and to train your body to mostly use body fat as fuel. You don’t get that training effect you are after if you go too quick!
You should feel like you should could have kept going at the end of each long run, not be totally exhausted. You should be running noticeable slower than any target race pace you might have in mind (the speed comes from the other sessions in the week. In fact doing the long runs too fast means you don’t have enough energy to go fast enough in the speed sessions the following week which will compromise pace on race day.
You should be able to speak in full sentences on each out breath as you run, so you could have a full and flowing conversation if someone was running next to you. If your heart rate zones are set up right this will be in zone 2.
If you are doing long runs on hilly routes keeping in the right training zone for endurance will involve slowing down/walking up the hills and that is fine! :)
Remember your fuelling (search in the group for my previous post on this) well fuelled and hydrated long runs will feel easier and more fun. And they give you the opportunity to practice what works for you so you’ve got it nailed for race day