It’s kind of daunting when you train for a long distance event like your first marathon and learn that you should regularly do a long run that is up to 20 miles. I can still remember my first 3-hour run and the muscle soreness that accompanied me for almost a week. Also it’s mentally tough to run at a consistent pace for 3+ hours and get the motivation to do it over and over again. Throughout the years however I totally fell in love with my weekly long run and it is now not only the highlight of my training week but my often of the week in general. In this post I’d like to share with you some reasons why I like the long run so much.
The world is pretty big and there’s so much to discover in one’s neighbourhood. You might think you know your surroundings pretty good. Well take a map, find your home and draw a circle around it with a 10k radius. You sure you’ve seen everything in it? I certainly haven’t and I still have some trails and streets yet to discover in my 10k circle.
Just trying to run a slightly different route on my weekly long run showed me so many places I haven’t been before or haven’t visited since a school trip two decades ago. I also like to give the long run a specific topic. For example I run from one castle ruin to another (we have quite a lot of them in Switzerland) and check the background of them after the run on Wikipedia.
Long runs are just an awesome way to discover your environment and learn more about it.
This is one of my favorite things to do during a long run. I guess this is also one of the main reasons why I prefer longer distances and endurance sports in general. Just having some hours “me time” and think stuff through or answer a question I have in my mind is an awesome thing.
The long run is a great tool to work on anything that occupies your mind and you want to solve. This quote from Christopher McDougall’s Book “Born To Run” is exactly what I mean:
If you don’t have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain’t getting them.
When I was a child I spend hours on my bike going up and down the street for hours straight. It wasn’t just moving my body but also just being outside, breathing fresh air and not sit in the same room in front of the same screen all day.
Being outside in nature is a great thing I can appreciate for hours.
I love music and I also love information and learning new stuff. There are tons of amazing and informative podcasts out there you can listen to while running. When I started my weekly long run some years ago I normally was listening to music all the time. Today I usually listen to several podcasts and tune in my running playlist if I need a boost.
Listen is one thing you can easily do while running and thus you can get twice as much out of the time your outside working out.
If you don’t like to listen to anything on the long run, you can use the workout to clear your mind. Get rid of your current struggles and let go after a tough day at work is one of the many reasons a lot of people started with running and stuck to it.
Nature, fresh air and using your body is an awesome medicine for your mind and it’s always available, free of charge and without side effects.
Oh that’s another good one. I normally can’t resist when there’s chocolate around and on long run days I can eat almost as many as I want without feeling bad 🙂
On my 3-4 hour long run I regularly burn between 2,000 and 2,500 calories. Energy I also need to take in with food before, during and after the run.
Long run days are often also about checking out how far you can go and testing the limits of your body. When you train for a longer distance race obviously the long run, that you extend week over week, is the workout where you’ll get your personal bests as far as distance and time of the workout.
It’s then interesting to learn how much your body can handle. Not only will you see improvement during the long run but also after it when your body is able to recover faster and faster.
This is a thing I often give as an answer when being asked why I run that much. A good long run is just like a compact mini holiday with memories and recovery.
This multi-hour recharge trip is something I don’t want to miss especially on busy and stressful weeks.
As you probably know yourself, running for several hours is pretty exhausting. Running in general is improving your sleep but after an intense long run you can sleep like a baby for sure.
Just make sure you don’t go running too late in the day. Your body needs some time to cool down after a workout so plan some hours between finishing your workout and going to bed.
Not a lot of people are able to run for hours straight. So after a long run you can be proud of what you achieved in all the weeks of training.
If you’re not yet a long runner let me say to you that I hope that post gave you some reasons why running long distances at a moderate pace is worth trying. If you need help on how to do long runs, check out this post.
If you run for hours already let us know what you inspired to do long distances or why you’re still doing them!