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Sprucing Up The Looong Run!

Every week it looms on your triathlon training schedule. It is the gorilla on your back: grappling, scratching and dragging you down. It is the best medicine to keep you in bed. The loooong run! Why must we burden ourselves with the long run? It is boring, mentally draining and it takes a large chunk of our day. Oh, but “It doesn’t have to be like this!”

For us to enjoy the long run, we must understand its purpose. Almost every coach as well as the running material you read preaches that a long run every week or two can help improve your running performance. The long run strengthens tendons and coordinates muscles, preparing the body for more strenuous faster paced running. More importantly, it mentally prepares you for the running segment of a triathlon which is usually shorter in distance than your long runs. I am much more confident going into the 10k segment of a triathlon knowing that I have run two to three times that distance while training. If I run for two hours in training, there is no reason why I can’t run for 35 minutes in a race.

Now we know why we should do the long run, but let’s figure out how we can enjoy it. For starters, and to the relief of us all, the rule of thumb is that you should be able to have a conversation with someone or else you are running too hard. The long run should be less than 70% of your maximum heart rate. For instance, if you are 30, than your maximum heart rate is somewhere around 190 (220 - your age). Your heart rate should stay below 133. I prefer the unscientific method of “talk rate”. If you can talk to someone without having to gasp between sentences, than you are in your target zone. Talk to yourself; recite the alphabet, National Anthem, Bill of Rights. People may stare at you, but not as long as if you were running naked.

The long run varies between individuals from one hour to three hours. The time depends on the distances in which you are racing and your running history. To get my butt out the door, I have several methods which make the long run enjoyable. The key behind these methods is to get your mind off of what you are doing, running. Don’t worry about how many miles you run, but base it on time. By doing so, you don’t strain yourself to reach certain mile marks in a specified time.

* Run with a friend or group of friends - Conversation passes time. If you are breathing too hard to talk, than its adios amigos to your running partners. The long run stresses the body in different ways than shorter, more intense runs. You are probably already running hard two times a week and running hard during your long run will more likely cause injury than enhance performance. The gossip conscious love the long run because the longer you run with someone, the less trivial the conversation (ie. what’s the weather going to be like?) and you get to learn more about the person such as does he wear boxers or tighty whities?

More Ideas...

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