It’s a well-known phrase or saying. “In the long run we will all be better off” is the sort of comment which trips off the tongue of Government Ministers, usually when they are trying to justify the parlous state the country is in now. Never mind that you can’t afford to eat, think of the feast that awaits once we have sorted out the current problems. The draw back with this argument was succinctly put by the great British economist John Maynard Keynes who quipped “In the long run we will all be dead”.
For runners the phrase has more literal meanings. It’s true that in planning for distance races a lot of what you do in early training is really for the benefit of the ultimate goal, the race itself. So its fair to say that the pain now will bear fruit in the long run. But usually we are just talking about running a long distance in training. Most marathon schedules have a long run as part of the programme, usually on a Sunday (On the basis that this is the day you are most likely to have the time to fit it in.) The key concepts behind this form of training are:
- By building up the long run distance week by week you can condition your body to running for long periods. On runs of 18 miles plus you tend to run out of usual glucose fuel supplies (Although there is a whole nutrition thing that you can look at to prevent this from happening) and start to burn fat, which is less efficient and causes pain. However if you run a number of 18 mile plus runs pre marathon, you can start to condition your body to accept that this is OK.
- Long slow runs build muscle and endurance.
- Psychologically you get to believe you can do the distances.
So today was my first long run at the end of a first week of training. The schedule said 8 miles. The group of us that met at the Pheasantry in Bushy Park had mixed objectives and speeds and most wanted to run less distance. We set out fairly slowly and ran across bushy Park to Kingston, then alongside the River to Hampton Court. On this stretch which is probably just short of 3 miles we started to spread out, but to keep the group together the front runners circled round and joined the back of the group every mile or so, then worked their way forward again. This way we all finished more or less together and everybody had a chance to fulfill their objectives.
Back in Bushy Park I said goodbye to the group to add on a couple of additional miles to make the 8. Jackie, another marathon runner who is also doing Brighton, joined me and we ran another two miles or so chatting about marathon training. So, a pleasant first long run for the campaign, which will hopefully benefit us both in the long run.
Total distance 8.75 miles on my Garmin (including the back and forth running on the towpath). Total time about 1hr 23 minutes. Average pace 9.32, but faster in reality as this did not take account of various stops.
Week one marathon schedule called for a total of 24 miles over 5 runs. With the Christmas break I did six runs and 32 miles, but its felt OK and a good start. Next week I am down to run a similar mileage with a long run of 9 miles on Sunday.
The Richmond 13.1 Half Marathon has had another 26 entries over the weekend and is now up to 207. If you are looking for a spring marathon check us out at www.perseverance-events.com