If you are training for a race or trying to reach a personal record for a certain distance, it seems counter-intuitive to run long distance and slow, right? Well, that is incorrect! The long, slow run has many benefits. First, it helps your muscles and joints adapt. Second, it improves your cardiovascular system, strengthens the heart and increases the blood supply in the muscles. It then enhances the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to your muscles. Third, it enhances your body’s ability to burn fat as a source of energy. Finally, it teaches your body to run efficiently. It minimizes the expenditure of energy needed to move throughout. The long, slow run should be the cornerstone of your running program.
Most seasoned runners dedicate a Saturday morning to the long, slow run. Throughout the week, it is good to vary the types of running you do. A healthy running program involves track training, hill workouts, fartlek runs, cross-training, easy runs, long, slow runs and rest. Since most runners never run at their exact race pace, it is important to work up the cardiovascular endurance to its peak potential. That is only done one way—by doing long, slow runs. If you normally run between a 7:00-7:30 minute mile pace, you should run at about an 8:30-9:00 minute mile pace for your long, slow run.
Try this out the next time you run and you might be surprised at how far your body can actually take you. Of course, don’t forget to hydrate before your run, stretch and warm up and ENJOY THE JOURNEY!