Since walking around the lake does me very little good, I said, "screw it," and decided that now was as good a time as any to start incorporating the "Long Run" - so instead of running one 3-mile lap, I'll jog 2 laps - 6 miles. (I also needed to get to my current weekly goal of 9 miles.. heh..)
Under most training schedules for runners, people do one long run per week. According to Bob & Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover in the Competive Runner's Handbook, Long runs do the following:
- Improve the ability of muscles to store glycogen and use fat efficiently as fuel, sparing glycogen.
- Force the body to search for help from fast-twitch (speed-oriented) muscle fibers, which can be trained to assist slow-twitch fibers for marathon effort.
- Improve aerobic and muscular endurance.
- Teach you to run relaxed with efficient form for long periods despite fatigue.
- Develop patience. The Long run forces you to slow down and pace yourself wisely.
- Provide a "dress rehearsal" for testing potential race day shoes and clothing, fueling and hydrating, and son un under marathonlike conditions.
- Provide an effective way to maintain or lose weight.
- Develop friendships. THere's nothing like sharing conversation-paces long runs for bonding.
- Above all, the long run is for the mind. It builds psychological endurance and confidence. You finish despite objects of the mind and body.
For most people, a long run is 12-22 miles or so. For a fatso like me, 6 miles is a long run.
The last time I've actually jogged for 6 miles straight (without stopping to walk) was the brooklyn half-marathon on March 10, 2001, where I jogged about the first half of the 13.1 miles (I walked most of the second half - and finished in 1818th place among 1827 men. (:
Speed isn't as important as getting in the distance, and time on your feet. Running too fast risks injury and leaves you fatigued and sore, interfering with quality workouts for days. Running long and slow trains the body to use fat efficiently as fuel. Running too fast on long runs on the other hand burns glycogen quickly, causing you to "hit the wall."
I ran the 6 miles in 80 minutes. 13 minutes per mile. Very slow, even for me.. The workout was completely aerobic - most of my workouts are more anaerobic because I put in a hard effort (probably harder than I should) for 30-35 minutes. This time I was really careful to run slow the whole length. Interesting how the "pain" that develops over the second lap is completely different from that of the first lap on a normal (faster run). That second mile was really rough, and I'm a lot more sore today than I am even for my hardest 3-mile runs.
So it was good..
Running 6 miles at that pace will never be that hard again.