This is something you are not likely to see trending on fitness media these days. Everything is geared towards how much can you do in as little time as possible. There are numerous forms of “kill yourself in as short a time as possible” promising great gains programs and formulas.
While these do have certain benefits in themselves, for runners their remains one bread and butter session that has proven over many years to produce great improvements for all levels from milers to marathon runners, the elusive LONG RUN, also fondly referred to as LSD (Long Slow Distance).
So what great benefits does the LSD run promise? (and it has been proven!)
- Denser mitochondria – which translated means more energy producing capacity in your muscle cells
- Denser capillary networks to deliver more oxygen to the muscles
- Mental toughness
- Improved muscular strength
- Enhanced running economy (efficiency)F
- Faster race times (see my article Going Long to Go Fast)
How much and how often?
The long run should be scheduled into your training schedule once a week. Usually a Saturday or Sunday works best as you are not as rushed. Think of these runs as “Time on your feet”. Start with the amount of time you currently can run and still feel you could run another 10-20 minutes if you had to for some reason. Then increase the time by 5-10 minutes a week. Every 3rd week cut back and go short to give your body a chance to recover.
Always do these runs at a pace where you can have a conversation without getting out of breath. Remember it is not about record times but “time on your feet”, which is why I prefer to schedule these in minutes rather than kilometres.
Over all my years of running, this is the one session that has remained a regular in my week and I believe is the reason I am still strong and have great endurance even though I train a lot less now and don’t do the crazy intervals of the racing years.
Enjoy the journey!