Long runs are essential for half and full marathon success. Running longer than 90 minutes is key to developing cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance and mental fortitude. This is why most runners schedule a weekly long run, usually on the weekend when they have the most free time.
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But running long just once a week will only go so far. Adding a medium-long run in the middle of the week can also provide a significant boost to endurance and ultimately to running performance. It will also help increase your overall weekly mileage, which is a key aspect of endurance training.
How do we define “medium-long run”?
A medium-long run is a run that lasts for more than an hour, ideally as much as 75 minutes but usually less than 90 minutes to a maximum of 120 minutes/2 hours. For most people, that equates to covering between 10 and 20K. For those who are a bit more experienced and aiming to run a personal best or speedier race, running up to two hours and covering up to 25K could be a reasonable option for a mid-week run. Generally, this run will be done at an easy or aerobic pace given that it is not a true workout. A runner could however add a number of fartleks or pick-ups (short and fast intervals) to the run to make for a higher quality run. Aim to add a medium-long run either weekly or bi-weekly.
Runs lasting longer than about 75 minutes also require consideration to fueling. While it may be beneficial to run without taking fuel—thus improving the body’s ability to use fats—those worried about completing the run should aim to take in fuel while on the run. A general guideline suggests taking about 30-60 grams of sugar—from energy drinks, gels or chew—per hour of running.
Here are some examples of how a training week that includes a medium-long run might look:
Monday – Tuesday – Wednesday – Thursday – Friday – Saturday – Sunday
Off or XC – 30-60min Speed – 75-90min EZ – Off or 30-45min EZ – 45-60min Tempo – Off or 30-40min EZ – 120-150min Long Run
Off or XC – 8-12K Speed – 12-20K EZ – Off or 5-8K EZ – 8-12K Tempo – Off or 5-8K EZ – 25-35K Long
XC: Cross- or strength-training; EZ: Easy running