Splitting Long Runs
The title of my blog, "Racing It Off", doesn't only refer to a pound here and there, or that giant slice of cake I ate, but it also refers to stress. When I am running and pushing my limits physically, the rest of the day seems to go more smoothly. I naturally become less stressed about things, and feeling optimistic. Today, I didn't work out, and I felt the stress, and now I wish I had pushed through at least a few miles. But I do already have a gym date set for tomorrow, so the treadmill and I will be seeing each other very soon.
But today, I have an article I'd like to share from Active.com. It's all about whether or not slower runners, like Mrs. Tortoise over here, should split long runs. This article really focuses on full marathons, which I am 19 weeks away from. For the half marathons I've done, I felt the long runs were crucial. The one race that I skipped some of my long runs for, I struggled the whole way. Anyhow, this is an interesting article, and I'm wondering how others feel about it. Frankly, I doubt I'll split my runs unless I just can't get it done, timewise. (It's a rather long article, so here are some excerpts, but you can click the link to get to the whole article.)
By Patrick McCrann
The long run is a critical component of any marathon training plan, as it's where you build the endurance and experience that will help you on race day. Distances vary, but most marathon plans will have long runs that peak out somewhere between 18 and 22 miles.
Athletes who run 10 minute miles or slower will be running anywhere from three to five hours! It's no coincidence that so many middle of the pack runners suffer overuse injuries. After all, they consistently run one-and-a-half to two times longer than their faster counterparts.
In other words, no one single run is what prepares you for your race. It is the effect of training your body over weeks and months — and the ability to focus that fitness on the big day with your race execution — that will give you the results you seek. Your can reap the benefits of a 45 mile run week by splitting that long 20 miler into two efforts without suffering the consequences of putting 50 percent of your weekly mileage into one session and overwhelming your body.
The longer you run over the 2.5 hour mark, the risk of getting injured and/or over-trained is significantly increased. Yet you aren't gaining any additional fitness that couldn't be achieved in shorter runs with better technique. In other words that costs of running longer significantly outweigh any potential benefits.
Aside from the increased risks, it's important to note that once you have hit the two hour mark on a long run, your body is pretty much functioning a total marathon capacity. You are fueling up as your glycogen stores are dwindling and you are hydrating to offset water loss. Nothing else magical happens to you after your body has reached this point other than needing the mental strength to continue on to the finish line.
You can't overestimate the importance of showing up to the marathon starting line 100 percent physically and mentally ready to race. Middle of the pack runners are plagued with over-use injuries because they spend significantly more time running than their swifter counterparts (since they follow the same training plans!). Running 2 hours longer than a 3.5 hour marathon finisher is already hard enough; doing it with cortisone shots in your hip, knee, calf, and/or foot doesn't make it any more bearable. A healthy runner is a happy runner.
I really hope this advice helps you make running a fun and reasonable part of your fit lifestyle. Training for a marathon is a massive undertaking, and it's important to remember that while we all seek the same finish line, nothing says we all have to train the same way to reach it.
So? What do you think?