You'll teach your body how to utilize fat as the primary fuel source, get in quality time on your feet, and recover more quickly. As you develop your long-distance resume and your body adapts to running longer, you can weave in faster paced long runs to fine-tune race-day performances. But this is best left for those who are seasoned and have a solid base of miles behind them.
More: Pacing Tips for Runners
5. Running too Many Long Runs Back-to-Back
It's easy to get caught up in the numbers game. That is, getting in a lot of back-to-back long training runs and believing you have to run the race distance before you run the race. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. A long run schedule should ebb and flow through two to three building weeks and cutback weeks to recover.
Once you get into the longer miles, you can alternate a longer run one weekend with a shorter run the next. This allows your body time to recover from the last effort before you hit your next building long run. Running too many long runs back to back (12, 13, 14, 15, 16...) can lead you quickly and efficiently to no man's land where you're fatigued and struggle to make it through the day. It's not about the total miles. It's about the quality of the long runs.
More: 6 Ways to Expand Your Training Schedule
6. Training with a Buddy Even Though They Aren't in Your Pace
One of the best parts of being a long distance runner is running with a buddy or group but if they aren't at your fitness level you can end up running too quickly or slowly and both can have a negative effect on performance. I've already mentioned the reasons to avoid running too fast and going it too slowly can alter your natural stride and increase impact forces on the body. Train at your effort and find a buddy or group that closely matches it and schedule a post run breakfast to catch up with your buddies outside your zone.
More: 5 Running Workouts to Do With a Partner
7. Catching up on Mileage When you Have a Set Back
The training plan is a blueprint that will evolve and change as you progress through the season. In the event you get sick, miss a training run while on vacation or have other issues that get you off track along the way, it is better to merge back into the plan and modify than to try and catch up. This is one reason I create training plans over 14 to 20 weeks for half and full marathons. It allows for a few missed days and week.
Avoid catching up with the plan and flow from where you are. When you miss a week due to illness, you are coming back from the illness and the time off. The best route is a few test runs of 30 minutes or so to remind your body that you're a runner. From there, you can build back up in mileage while keeping it at an easy effort for the return week.
The key is to give your body time to get back into the swing of things rather than jumping back in. It is better to toe the line healthy and with a few less long runs under your belt than to show up hurt or fatigued after having crammed in all the scheduled runs. Your training plan is a work in progress. Let it naturally flow with the rhythm of your life.
More: 11 Keys for a Successful Marathon Journey
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