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5 Ways to Mix Up Your Long Run

By Rock 'n' Roll, 05/26/16, 12:15AM EDT


Put some purpose in those weekend big ones.

Considering kicking your mileage up a level? Or perhaps you’re a seasoned distance runner who’s making your way back to the pavement. Whatever your situation, the Top 5 Training Tips to Run a Marathon will guide you in getting acquainted with the core of a solid distance training regimen — the long run. Let’s get started!

90-minute blasts

Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of easy jogging and then run for 90 minutes at 95% effort. So if the farthest you could run in 90 minutes is 10 miles, run about 9.5 miles in your 90-minute blast. You will burn as much glycogen as you would in a two-plus-hour run at a moderate pace.

Divided long run

Instead of doing a long run on Saturday and taking Sunday off (or vice versa), do moderately long runs on both days. For example, instead of running 20 miles on Saturday and zero on Sunday, run 12 miles on Saturday and 12 again the next morning.  The combined benefit of your Divided Long Run will be at least as great as that of the single longer run.

Run different surfaces

Don’t get caught in a running rut. It can be easy to head out the door and run the same route from your house every day or cave to the convenience of the treadmill at the gym — yet again. As much as possible, try to switch up the surfaces you run on. Softer surfaces, such as grass or trails, can be great for recovery runs since the impact is less on your body, and the uneven nature of the surface can help strengthen your feet or lower legs. Running on roads can help harden your legs and work on your race rhythm, while the treadmill can help you dial in pace with laser-like precision. Much like switching up your running shoes, varying where you run can decrease running-related overuse injuries.

Train your mental muscle

The most important thing you can take to the starting line with you on race day is the confidence that you’re ready to achieve your goal. Just as you practice running race pace in training or tackling a tough uphill, it’s important to work on your mental fitness. Visualize race day in training: See yourself on the course hitting goal pace, taking in nutrition and strategizing how you’ll respond when your legs start screaming at you to stop. Gain confidence from all the work that you’re putting into achieving your goal. Being mentally fit allows your physical fitness to manifest itself on the race course.

Up and down

Run 10 to 14 miles on the hilliest route in your area.  Try to keep your average pace close to your goal marathon pace despite the topography. This workout will not only use as much glycogen as a longer run on flat terrain, but thanks to the downhill portions it will also subject your legs to as much pounding as a longer run, toughening them up for race day.

As you can see, there’s no quick fix to building up mileage towards crushing those long runs, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to drudge your way through. The next time you lace up your sneaks and hit the pavement, remember these five training tips to get the most out of your runs and one step closer to your distance goals.

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