Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When is a long run long?

When I started running, I considered a run as long if it was any more than one lap around a standard track. Note that I failed at my first few attempts at running that distance without needing a walk break.

Running a whole 5K became an accomplishment. Then running a whole 10K and then a half marathon (except for walking through the water stops). These were races and probably should be consider long "races" not long "runs."

It got me thinking what is a "long run?" There is some mystique and aura (no, not superheroes or dancers of some sort) around the long run as part of marathon training or long distance triathlon training. Is it physical training or is it, perhaps, more mental? More importantly, when does it qualify as an official long run?

I've heard that some people define it as longer than 10 miles. Some define it as longer than 90 minutes (of course there are probably the same folks who run 10 miles in much less than 90 minutes and that ain't me). Some define it as longer than 2 hours. Perhaps longer than a half mary qualifies.

Last weekend I ran 12 miles of run 10 minutes/walk 1. About 8.5 miles in my run (when I was reloading the water bottle), my friend Kathy was starting her run on the same trail. This was her last big run before IMAZ and she had 18 miles on her plan (this of course was after her 100 on the bike the day before). We ran and talked a while together before I had to turn around and head back to rejoin the real world. I thought my run would qualify as long in my mind.

It got me thinking. Should ipods be worn on the long run if the race doesn't allow them? (I'm leaning no but I seem to use my ipod on almost every run). Should you be talking on the run? (I'm leaning yes especially if you will be racing with friends). Would these disqualify the run as long? I settled on no - as long as the miles get done, the miles get done. It can be (and was) slow but the benefits will be realized in January.

Fortunately I'll have more time to think of this as my training runs for the Disney Marathon are getting long by anyone's definition. I hope there will be some time soon when I will look back at this "dirty dozen" that I ran on Sunday and consider it short.

Doubt I would ever consider them easy though.


Diane said...

Interesting post. I think it's all mental. I'm now at the point where I think, "a half marathon - no problem. but a full marathon. wow. BIG problem". I know that in order to be successful in my training I need to mentally break through that barrier and see 26 miles as very doable and within my reach.

And I definitely agree that fast or slow, it all gets the job done and you WILL see those benefits come the day of the marathon.

Good work and good luck in your training.

Carolina John said...

i call it a long run if i have to take a gu in the middle. for me that means 90 minutes, sometimes less. but i plan for 10 m/m pace and prefer to run in distances, not times.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Anything over 10k is long in my opinion and I think Ipods are ok on long runs, if your not racing, I find it hard to keep your mind from getting bored on training runs. At least in a race, your thinking most of the time on what is going on.

Missy said...

I NEVER wear an iPod running from 30 minutes to 2:30 hours. I can't race with it so I don't want to rely on it. I also don't wear one for safety reasons. I like to hear everything going on around me.

Yeah, I'm good until about 1:30...anything after that is long and/or anything in double digits.

Dee said...

I really enjoyed this post...especially since I am doimg my last "long Run" tomorrow before IM Cozumel! Hmmm, I think a "long run" is anything 12 and over. Don't know why, but 12 just sounds like a "long run to me". Oh...I don't run with an IPOD and I do all of my long runs solo... Ha!What's wrong with me?!!! ;-)

JAllgood said...

A long run? Hmm... I think that varies as to the person and the fitness level they are at. I signed up for a 5K this Saturday and haven't run for over a month and a half. OUCH! A 5K seems long right now to me! Now for IPODs, I'm still trying to figure out how do feel comfortable with one on when I running. My ears have issues! But I will say that towards the end of the 70.3 Tri this summer the IPOD did keep my feet going with the tunes.