The physical requirements of a marathon (26.2 miles) are completely different from the ones of a half marathon (13 miles) or shorter races. This is why a marathon is a unique sports event.
Whether you are a professional runner or an amateur, running a marathon will cause you physical and mental exhaustion.
Therefore, it is important to have respect for the distance, do a proper training for it and learn to endure the discomfort and weariness of a distance that will demand the most of your body.
To help you accomplish that, there is a workout you should not miss. We consider it the most important for a marathon: the long run.
THE ESSENTIAL WORKOUT IN A MARATHON
Surely there are plenty of other workouts and other important aspects to take into account when running a marathon, but without a doubt, long runs are the best workout for a marathon, so we really recommend that they are never missing.
Long runs (also known as long distance runs) is a workout that involves running a longer distance than the rest of your weekly trainings at a slower and more relaxed pace.
The long run should be included at least once a week (or every other week if you are in a worse shape) in a training plan for a marathon.
Long runs are essential in a training plan for a marathon because the physiological adaptations that occur are extremely necessary to complete a full marathon’s distance and directly affect your performance during the race.
Some of the adaptations caused by the long runs are:
– Increase the number of capillaries and the content of myoglobin in each muscle fiber.
– They contribute in the increase of the number, size and efficiency of muscle fiber mitochondria.
– Our muscles will learn to store more glycogen.
– Habituate your body in efficiently using fat as fuel.
One of the key aspects in properly experiencing a marathon is, without a doubt, training our resistance and our ability of enduring a physical effort efficiently for as long as possible. The long run will help you achieve it.
Besides, long run trainings will help us train our mind to run for a longer period of time and strengthen it to withstand the physical and mental exhaustion caused by a marathon race.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOUR LONG RUNS BE?
While there is no perfect distance for a long run to ensure a successful marathon, it is very important to keep in mind the following advice:
– Don’t do a 26-mile long run before a marathon. It is not recommended.
– You should increase the distance progressively.
– Even when a lot of runners believe that a 20-mile long run before a marathon is mandatory, it is not true.
– It is not recommended that you do a longer than 3 hours long run, because the risk of an injury is higher; you will take longer to recover for another workout and the physiological adaptations that you are looking for with a long run will be perfectly produced in less than 3 hours.
flickr photo by Juanedc http://flickr.com/photos/juanedc/15197605657 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license