Category: Long Slow Distance Runs

Long Slow Distance Running Tips For Beginners

Here are some very quick tips if you’re new to running longer distances.

  1. Don’t be phased by the longer runs in your race training regime – If you’re doing a marathon for the first time and wonder how anyone could run 18 miles, don’t worry too much. The shorter runs before it will prepare your body and mind for it.
  2. If you can continue on with a long run then by all means keep with it – If this weeks long run only says that you need to run 5 miles and next week’s run is 7, carry on to 6 or 7 if you can.
  3. Try increasing the length of your short runs if you aren’t having any success with your longer runs – Reduce your pace if necessary. If this is your first time training for a race, make sure you can cover most of the distance before starting. It doesn’t matter what pace you cover it at. Just do it.
  4. Enjoy the run as much as possible –  The more you enjoy a long slow run, the quicker the time will pass for you. You will likely spend 2 to 4 hours on a long run which is a hell of a lot of time to kill if you’re having a really bad time. Try running somewhere a little bit nicer. Ease your pace. Run with a friend.
  5. Keep running your long slow run even after you’ve finished training for your race – Why? Well the chances are that you’ll want to run another race soon after your first experience. It is always much easier to continue on with your training whilst you still have your fitness than to have to build up from scratch once again.
  6. Travel somewhere far away on public transport and run back home – That way if you lose the motivation to run during the last section of a run, you’ll be forced into continuing on with your workout.
  7. Don’t let your first few tough long runs sour you from the experience – If you persist with the long run over the course of a few years it will start to become second nature to you. Don’t lose hope. Ask for advice from your running club mates if you’re starting having a tough time. If you aren’t part of a running club, ask for advice on the internet.

Ideal Long Slow Distance Run Pace For Beginners Starting Marathon Training

In the past I’ve used the McMillan calculator as a guide to what my long slow distance run pace should be. For me this has been a major reason towards why my marathon times have been poor.


Well when I was running 2:10 half marathons, the calculator was suggesting that I run all long slow distance runs at a 11:00 min/mile. I followed this advice for 2 years and I struggled to even break 5 hours in the marathon.

The simple fact is that it’s better to train at the pace you want to run in a race.

The Problem Of Taking In Energy Gels On Your Long Runs

Over the last few years I’ve came to realise that I struggle quite a lot with taking in energy gels on a long slow run. Every time I tried to swallow the goo, my gag reflex wanted to kick it back out of my body.

With a bit of practice I was eventually able to keep them down more often.

If I run at an easier pace, they are so much easier to ingest.

When I’m out on the long slow run these days I try to run at the intensity level that will allow me to intake the gels without any digestive problems.

Typically I’ll only take in gels when I’m on a downhill stretch of my course, which makes it easier to re-fuel.

You’ve gotta experiment with your own techniques for re-fuelling to find out what works for you!

Whatever you do, don’t change your refuelling strategy on race-day otherwise you might be in for quite the mess if you don’t make it to the rest rooms on time!

Focus On Spending As Much Time As You Can On Your Feet At Your Race Target Pace

If you’re aiming for 4:30 in a marathon, then running your last few 20 miler long runs at a 10:18 min/mile pace is much better for you than running at a 11:00 min/mile for the same distance.

Your marathon training should be all about practicing what you want to actualize in the race itself!

If you’re training for your first 26.2 miler and haven’t ran past 20 miles, then you won’t know how your body or your mind will will react once you reach this distance.

If anything – If you train at a slightly faster time than your target time, then it will give you a comfort zone at the end where you’ll be able to fade a little and still easily achieve your goal pace.

Long Slow Distance Running For Weight Loss

Don’t let anyone tell you different, but losing weight with long slow runs IS possible.

The reason why some runners don’t lose weight in marathon training is that they assume that they can eat anything and then run AND lose weight.

Your body still obeys the calories in vs calories out rule. If you take in more calories than you burn, then you’ll gain weight. If the opposite is true, then you will lose weight!

In my first two years of marathon training, I’d reward myself for completing a long run with a huge pizza that contained close to 2,000 calories. Here I was burning 2,500-3000 calories a run and immediately eating back 2,000 of what I’d worked for!

Nowadays I go for a low fat pizza and actually enjoy it as I know that I’m working towards weight loss for real now.

Running Two Long Runs In One Weekend Can Help Build Endurance

This is something I started trying in the autumn of 2013 as I found it difficult for a while to fit any weekday runs in.

On Saturday I’d run between 13-15 miles around a hilly course at about a 9:30min/mile and on Sunday I’d cover a flat route for 18-20 miles at 10:30 min/mile.

This routine helped quite a bit with the last few miles in marathon races. The soreness in my legs from completing a 20 miler directly after a 13 miler proved to be an excellent way to simulate the discomfort I’d encounter towards the end of a marathon race.