4 Ways to Make Your Long Runs More Effective

Accelerated Recovery for Continued Training

Although the long run is an important part of training, there are quite a few runs remaining during your marathon preparation.

Most long runs are done approximately four weeks out, leaving you 21 to 28 days to recover and sharpen up for the race. Assuming you trained at the right pace and fueled properly, then all that's left to do is recover.

Recovery is important to relieve the wear and tear from your peak long-run sessions. Steps include:

  • Protein recovery shake, carbs to protein ratio of 4:1
  • Rehydrate to pre-run levels over the next 2 to 3 hours
  • Elevate your feet, ideally for 1 to 2 minutes for every mile run. An 18 miler should give you 18 to 36 minutes of elevation (Bonus: you might nap)
  • Plan on one, perhaps two days off. Use this time to walk to stay loose and do some stretching

From a long-term perspective, quicker recovery means you can move on to the tapering process. This is where you consolidate your training using a schedule with frequent, short runs at race pace or faster. I prefer to call this sharpening, not tapering, as many runners consider taper time to be about not doing anything, whereas you're actually putting in a specific effort to be ready for your race.

More: 10 Marathon Taper Tips You Can't Forget

  • Return to running after two days, but resist the temptation to run fast/hard until your legs have recovered
  • Plan on two more runs that are semi-long, usually less than two hours, where you can finish the last 25 to 30 percent at goal race pace
  • Use the nutrition lessons learned from your last long run for your remaining sessions—every run is a chance to practice

The long-run component of your marathon-training plan is important for many reasons. Don't miss out on the chance to make the most of these critical workouts en route to your marathon. Use what you learn to improve your race performance as well as your next training cycle (you'll be back).

More: 22 Essential Pieces of Marathon Training Advice

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