It is very easy to get into the habit doing the same kind of long run each week. That moderate effort for a long period of time. I am guilty of this myself as I like to do my long runs with a small group of runners. However, by making some changes to your weekly long run in the lead up to your race can not only have a massive impact from a physical prospective but also from a psychological point of view as well.
Here are some great options for mixing up your weekly long run.
Adding walking within your long run is the best way to increase volume each week and lower the risk of injury. Simple things like adding 30sec every 10min of running, run 9min and walk 1min. every 5min of running add 20sec of walking.
You can mix and match this to fit in with where your fitness is at.
Depleted Long Run
Not having any carbs before or during the run and keeping the pace moderate. This is a great session if you are training for a marathon, Ironman or longer. I would however recommend bringing some nutrition with you. Best to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Breaking your long run into three parts and running medium effort, back the effort off into a moderate effort and increasing it again into a medium effort. For example if I had a Ironman athlete do this sessions maybe three or four times in a twelve week lead up to their race, the session would look like 10 miles medium effort, 10 miles moderate effort, 10 miles medium effort. The medium efforts should be uncomfortable but manageable.
Three rounds of 5x 1min effort
Adding 5x 1min medium effort (uncomfortable but manageable), 1min easy in the early part of your long run, again somewhere in the middle and again towards the end. The rest of the long run is done at a moderate effort.
Long run with a fast finish could be from 20 minutes through to 10km. The effort could be from race effort through to an uncomfortable but manageable effort. Unless you really know your body, no efforts on the long run should be completed at a MAD state (as fast as possible without compromising your technique)
Ten Push Ups every Ten Minutes of Running
This isn’t the best session if you suffer from back pains but is a great session to do in the off season and even better to do with friends. 10 push ups every 10 minutes of running. If you do this with your friends, you can have some fun and do one or two extra push ups each time so by the end, you can say you did more push ups.
1min on, 1min off – Focus on Focusing
Chopping between 1min at race effort and 1min easy is a great way to get your body use to the demands of race day without the damage of doing a race. To me it is a greater session to help with focus. The difference between a good race and an average race is often focus.
Effort vs Pace
Note that I don’t mention pace. I don’t really care about pace. I care about the effort. What does it feel like for you.