I don’t typically like to assign higher importance to one run over another; honestly, it takes day after day after day after day…and so on and so on to be great at running…but if there were one run that had higher importance than the others, especially in the summer, that would be the long run.
Do not neglect the long run, especially in the summer. In fact, for mature runners, running multiple ‘long runs’ during a week is highly beneficial…especially during those base building months.
So, what constitutes a long run? For me, it’s anything that is 20% or more of your weekly mileage in a single run. Now, that leaves a very wide range…the 100+ mile per week crew would be running 20+ miles for their long run, while the under-30 mile per week crew would be running less than 6 miles for theirs. But I believe that 20% number fits in well with what I’ve read, studied, and experienced.
Now, how do we run the long runs? Typically for me there are two types of long runs, unless you are in marathon training, and I am not opening that can of worms right now. Those two types of long runs are simply the normal, easy long run, and the hilly long run.
The normal, easy long run is over flat or lightly rolling terrain and should be run with a negative split effort; but nothing that is forced or pushed. Simply start easy, allow the body to wake up, and naturally progress throughout the run…this should be a very natural progression without any forcing the pace to inch down.
The hilly long run is the exact same thing as the normal, easy long run, just run over a hilly course. You want the hills to roll and not be so steep that it’s dangerous to run down them.
I like establishing the long run on Saturday throughout the year, with two reduced long runs on Tuesday and Thursday…but the two reduced long runs would only be for the mature, higher mileage runner.
It’s the summer time, which is the prime base building months for the cross country runner — DO NOT NEGLECT THE LONG RUN!!!