LONG RUNS: SLOW DOWN!!!

Throughout my injuries I have tried to learn as much as I can about how to PREVENT getting injured again in the future.  Besides learning not being an airhead and running through a crazy amount of pain, jumping into speed work too quickly and using skittles to fuel my runs, I have been learning a lot about LONG RUNS (p.s. I can’t WAIT to do those AGAIN!).

Past-Janae long runs looked like this:

I should try and go as fast as I can during my long run so that I am completely ready for that pace in my upcoming marathon (i.e. my run with a WHITE KENYAN).

Clearly that didn’t end well….um femoral stress fractures!

The more I research long runs the more I am learning about the importance of SLOWING DOWN!!!

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I think Mr. Hal Higdons says it the best…….

Run Slow: I know this is tough for you. You want to go out on those long runs and BLAST! Don’t! Normally I recommend that runners do their long runs anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds per mile or more slower than their marathon pace. This is very important, particularly for Advanced runners who do speedwork during the week. Listen to what the Coach is about to tell you! The physiological benefits kick in around 90-120 minutes, no matter how fast you run. You’ll burn a few calories and trigger glycogen regenesis, teaching your muscles to conserve fuel. Running too fast defeats this purpose and may unnecessarily tear down your muscles, compromising not only your midweek workouts, but the following week’s long run. Save your fast running for the marathon itself. There are plenty of days during the rest of the week, when you can run fast. So simply do your long runs at a comfortable pace, one that allows you to converse with your training partners, at least during the beginning of the run.


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Do YOU slow down for your long runs?

What is your fuel of choice during long runs?

Cytomax and skittles but I think I should rely more on shot blocks rather than skittles:)

What/when was your last LONG run?

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64 comments

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I definitely aim to slow down (although I am already fairly slow anyway) so that I can actually cover the distance and live to tell the tale.

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I ran 20 miles on Sunday night… Along the highway… Starting at 8pm (read: sunset). Not speeding up out of fear for my life was tough! Ha, probably the mOst stupid training run I’ve put myself through this year :p

I always run my long runs at a base level. Since my coach has me training with HR levels, I maintain base hr on my longer runs. This generally works out to about 30-45sec per KM slower than my race goal pace :)

PS. I fuel with skittles sometimes :p 1 skittles every 5 minutes totally helps the time fly by faster than 1 gu every 35-40!

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Hello, I am a new reader to your blog and I am loving it! You are so funny! I am fairly new to running (about 2 years) but just this spring I decided I wanted to do more than an 5k and started to increase my runs. I also changed tracks from a high school track to a concrete bike trail. Needless to say I injured my leg :( I ran through the pain for 6 weeks before I couldn’t hardly walk and then went to the doctor. He took and x-ray but said that it was just shin splints and they would recover on their own. Now its been 5 weeks since the doctors appt. and 11 weeks since I injured myself! Now he is going to send me to do physical therapy. A lot of people I know that run have been telling me it might be a stress fracture. It is so frustrating! I miss running terribly! How long did it take your stress fracture to heal? And did you still run short runs? Just curious and thanks for all the entertainment in your blog!

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Love this. Great reminder! It’s tough to slow down. I think the mentality is “how will I run fast for 26 miles if I don’t practice doing so.” But, Hal is right. We do speed work and tempos so that we will be able to. 2 weeks ago I did my long run at MP + 60 seconds and the recovery from that run was EASY. I guess that should have taught me a lesson. One day I will be smart about running…yes, one day…

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My last long run was 18 miles in April. I miss them, too!:-( I did mine too fast, too. That will change…. Proud of you and everything you’ve learned!!!

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Oh no! Janae! I love eating Skittles on my long runs! :( They’re the best! Have you tried the kind that come in the green bag and have 2 different flavors in one?! Amazing! I ate them at the movies last night.

My treadmill comes on Wednesday! I AM SO EXCITED!! I also got new shoes, love them! They’re nice and light and minimal. I think you’d approve.

Janae, I really want to do a guest post on your blog! If you ever need anyone to write about being a runner AND being vegan, I’m your girl! :)

SLOWING DOWN – I find it really hard! My 2 methods for dealing with: #1) Run with someone else and talk a lot — it forces you to slow down. #2) listen to an audiobook or podcast because they’re less likely to make you speed up than fast, fun music. That seems to work for me! But you’re so fast, it’s probably hard to find people to run with!

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Ooo that’s a great idea!!! I have way too may “power songs” to be able to run long with them. I’m def going to have to get an audiobook. Thanks for the tip!

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omg. Totally totally agree with this post! I think often times people run into problems by taking their long runs at marathon pace (or even faster!). Maybe I am just saying this bc I always did long runs at like 10 minute mile pace so I’m jealous of those going fast, but still.

I can’t wait until you’re runnin’ more and back to kicking butt again!

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I’ve been taught that an easy pace during long runs equates to a faster marathon time, if you do speed work during the week. It’s still hard to slow down when you know you can go faster. The heat has forced me to slow down and hopefully I’ll see the benefits in November.
I love Power Bars Energy Blasts during my long runs. I can’t handle the texture of the gels.
My last long run was Saturday. We’ve scaled back on the mileage until the weather cools down though (only 7 miles instead of 11).

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My last “long” run was 9 miles. I’m still a newbie, and I think all of my runs are slow haha. But I know that it’s important to build myself up … both in speed and distance. I’m not trying to win any races yet … I just want to be a part of them! :)

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I follow Hal’s Marathon plan and I am constantly yelling at myself to slow down. I have difficulty slowing down but I am learning!

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My first long run for my training plan is THIS Saturday! :D I’ve been very much telling myself that I need to take those slow and easy. It’s all about time on your feet right? One time I took mini marshmallows with me because it was all I had :) Now I use chocolate mint Gu. It’s the only one that tastes good to me.

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I don’t run slowly for the entire long run… for example if I’m doing 18 I’ll do the first 10 at a comfortable pace and then the last 8 close to marathon goal pace. That helped me PR by 14 minutes and qualify for Boston!

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Well, I like to run slower. My goal pace is about a 7:4x for a half marathon, but I really enjoy my 9min/mi pace, so it’s easy to stay slower. It’s so nice to relax and enjoy the run.

My last long run was TWO WEEKS ago!! :sadface: The first week was supposed to be a cutback week, but this last week I’ve been out due to a back injury. I loooooved water skiing, but the subsequent back spasms were not nearly as fun.

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Janae – first time commenter. This is a great blog… really enjoy reading it. Never thought I’d find someone as obsessed w/ both ice cream and running as my girlfriend Andrea and I! :-)

Your advice is right on the money and something I have been trying to stress to other runners I know… slowing down long runs (and easy days in general) was the best thing I have ever done for my training. I do some long runs up to 2 minutes slower per mile than marathon pace. Its funny how slowing down many runs is what got me to run very fast in the marathon, but its totally true.

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My last long run was 8 miles on Sunday. Just at the beginning of the mileage buildup. Since it is too stinking hot in south Mississippi for a girl who does not sweat to run outside, I have been doing all my runs on the treadmill. This has helped me a lot with the pacing. Usually I don’t follow the slow rule too well. I try to slow down, and then the next time I look at the Garmin I am running fast again. While annoying to set the pace so slow on the treadmill when all I want to do is get off that thing, it has been good for me.

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I so agree with this, but also struggle with it! During marathon training I forced myself to slow down and wore my Garmin to keep me at the slower pace.
I like GU Gels, Honey Stingers, Jelly Belly’s and Vega Sports Optimizer drink mix. My last long run was Sunday (usually they are every Sunday) and was 18km – getting ready for the Disney Half Marathon!

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ahhh i love thissssssss i cant wait till i am better so i can finally do some long runssssssss!!!!!!!

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yes! i do slow down. because i get tired running “long.” lol.

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Hi – Just found your blog yesterday and I love it!
I’ve run plenty of 1/2 marathons, but I’m training for my first full – The Marine Corps this October. I’m excited yet nervous. I’m just starting to get into the meat of my training. Before I know it, I’ll have to run 16 or 18 miles with no race involved! I run slowly to begin with, so I run even more slowly when I have to do a longer run.
Oh, and I love to have Gu and Gatorade during my runs although I am tempted to start consuming gummy bears for those longer runs… Ain’t nothin’ wrong with Skittles!

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That is a great piece of advice! I struggle to maintain a slow pace on long runs, but it really does make a difference at the end of 20 miles. Last year I ran all my long runs too fast, got to my marathon and bonked. I use gu for fuel on runs (mint chocolate chip!) Last long run was a 10 miler two weeks ago.

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Great post! lots of great information. I know how hard it has been for you but you have helped so many of us with your up beat outlook on your injuries and have shared some great advice on what to do and what not to do – I know I have learned a ton, so THANK YOU!

I fuel with gu and shot blocks and the occasional sweedish fish :) I am really bad at re-fueling though and need to learn more about that! Last long run was an 8 miler on Monday but am hoping to hit some double digits this weekend!!!

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Chop a clif bar into bite size pieces. I tried a Gu and OMG I thought it had the consistency of aloe vera! Ugh never again!!! lol

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I just did 18miles today…the slow down came from my tummy yelling at me and forcing me to stop every 4miles! But it has been the best I have felt post run EVER. So the easier pace helped me get through the day without a nap.

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Umm I have no choice BUT to go slow. Slow is my only running speed.

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I do 30-45 seconds slower for my long runs..maybe I should slow down even more?? Sometimes it’s really hard..my legs are stubborn.
Just bought some shot blocks.. I am trying to use legit running fuel. My go to was always Starbursts :) And always vitamin water!

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YES! This is a post I need! I have just begun slowing down my long runs to get faster for my marathon! At first I was like, huh? But now it makes sense, especially because my plan has speed work and all that jazz mid-week!!

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I think everything’s relative — at my “fastest”, I am considered slow! But I definitely agree with the “slow” part of “long slow run”.

When I trained for my first half-marathon, I had a friend and colleague who was training for it at the same time. She’s a speedy little devil, but had never run more than 5 miles — and neither had I. As it turns out, being my tortoise-like-self ended up working in my favor, I think. Speedy friend ended up with a stress fracture and couldn’t run. And then there was me, far slower, substantially less fit, and more overweight, and I finished both the training and half-marathon without injury. I swear to this day that because I was not capable of “fast”, I was able to finish.

Having said all of that — I am always working to get faster and I gaze longingly at the “gazelles” like yourself who have to force yourselves to slow down. But if it came down to a trade — for me — it’s about the love of running and I’m a better person when I can. So if I had to trade, I’d rather run SLOW sustainably for the rest of my life than swap risk of injury to win FAST.

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Running slow for me was one of the hardest things I had to do with long runs. I just think the faster I run, the quicker I get done with the long run. It has been since March I have done a long run. I overtrained for a race which took me out about two months. I was running for to just keep base for a while this summer (longest run being six miles) and ended up pulling my achillis. I have not ran in about two weeks, but I am okay with letting it heal.

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This is a great post Janae! I’m really getting deep into the long runs now and I REALLY need to tell myself to slow down! Thank you!

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I always START slow, but I usually find myself naturally picking up the pace in the last half. I never push it though, or try to “race”. I’ve never done a run long enough to need fuel (I have yet to race my first full!), but I’m not very good at eating on runs so I feel like it would probably be watered-down gatorade and gu….

My last long run was the beginning of july…I can’t wait to get back to those either!! So excited for you that you’re running again! :)

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My last long run was only 7 miles. I have no problem starting out slow, at 23 i could go out the shoot, not as much anymore. Mile 3 feels amazing next to the first half mile.

On my half marathon training long runs, and race I had a grape when i felt I need a little boost or flavor in my mouth. In the race used them at mile 7 and 11. I also use those mini saltine crackers when my stomach feels sloshy. did not need during race, but on some of the long runs they were great, and washed down with a swig of water or gaterade, perfect for me.

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While I am not NEARLY as fast as you, I think this may have contributed to MY stress fracture (this post itself didn’t contribute, the doing long runs too fast thing). I would be all “I feel great, I don’t need to go slower”. I don’t think I did any of my long runs slow enough at all. Live and learn :). I am going to listen to the wiser, more experienced now- when I ever get to run again!

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Ahhhh. The long run. My last real long run was in March- a 20 miler which occured one week before my lovely stress fracture. Now, 5 months later, I am pain free and (finally) running again but taking a MUCH more gradual approach. My current *long* run is 8 miles. :-) I hope to hit the double digits within the next few weeks but I am exercising a lot of self-restraint to keep from re-injuring myself!

Also- love Hal Hidgon! His Intermediate II plan helped me qualify for Boston the first time I tried! I didn’t understand his slower long run mentality but it really does work! :-)

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when i trained for my marathon i made sure to do my long training runs at least a minute slower than my normal running pace. i think it saved me, kinda…

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I absolutely slow down for my long runs by like a minute and a half – and THAT is really slow! I used to get really bummed out about it, but I have come to appreciate it now because it got me through the Pittsburgh Marathon. I like fueling with a banana during really long runs 14+ miles.

Thanks for the tips from Hidgon – love it!

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I usually do my long runs about 30 sec/mi slower… I am pretty slow to begin with though ;-)

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I couldn’t agree more on running slow on the long runs, I find if I try to start out fast then I loose steam halfway through. SO it’s good to run at a slower pace when you are running so you don’t burn out too fast or get injured!
I am only in week 2 of my half marathon training so my long runs are pretty short right now, but I am looking forward to tackling some 8-10 mile runs!

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Well my long runs aren’t as long as most of the others … mine are in the 10 – 12 km area right now… but I recently learned from Sara at Words to Run By, that I should be running them slower… at 75 – 78 7 of max heart rate… and so I do wear my HRM during them and try to keep to that. No walk breaks on LSR.

So far I don’t eat during them. But make sure to drink lots of water and eat a proper RECOVERY meal afterward.

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This is great advice! Hal is a smart man. :) I haven’t run more than 3-4 miles since March! Ha. But I’m loving hills and speedwork lately.

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i definitely slow my pace down for long runs because i know i will brun out quickly if i try to keep my usual pace up. and bananas are my key to long runs..it doesnt cause me to cramp up of feel sluggish :)

xoxo

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Ok seeing hal’s advice spelled out is very helpful! I ran all my long runs for my half at the same pace I ran the race in. Now that um doing legit spewed work during the week I feel like I really need to dial the long run pace down a bit. Thanks for the reminder!

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great post and I am learning this too!!!!!! I think this is why I got my stress fracture as well! 20 mile runs at 7:28 pace= not good in the long run:(:(

I can’t WAIT either to do some long runs again! gonna be fabulous!
questions is….will I be ABLE to stop myself from running them too fast? I have issues.

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Yep, you definitely need to slow down your long runs!! You and Kara Goucher apparently, did you hear that she has a femoral neck stress reaction?

I do my long runs at least 45 sec/mile slower than my marathon pace. I did 10 miles today, which I guess is a long run for now since my next marathon isn’t until December. I wish I had a fuel of choice, but I haven’t found anything that works for me! I used to do gels and now they make me gag, then I did shot blocks for a while and got sick of those, so I’m actually thinking of doing candy. There’s no reason not to eat skittles or gummy bears during a long run if that’s what you will eat. It’s basically the same stuff that’s in gels and shot blocks. I have trouble eating anything when I’m running long and/or fast :/

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Music to my ears! Love the slow, long runs. A recent favorite fuel of mine is Honey Stinger stuff. Especially the chews. I’ve been known to munch their waffles pre-long run. It’s like a cookie! But organic and all natural and it’s all delicious. If I have the chews on hand, I sometimes have to stop myself from just straight snacking on them.

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So glad you did this post Janae. In my early years of running I underestimated the importance of the “long run.” I know that I used to run them too fast. I’m learning to slow down. Mentally I always want to go faster. But, you’re soo right! Funny because I just had this discussion with my hubby and he’s so practical in his way of thinking (bless his heart!). He says “well if you want to run a 3:20 shouldn’t you run your long runs at a 7:38 pace or faster??” I had to read articles from different sources that could make him understand the “why’s!!” Now he gets it. :)

Last long run was last week 15mi. This week will be 22mi. Maui’s getting closer!! :) Taper starts 2nd week of September. I’m actually looking forward to it! I usually DON’T. But, this time I am!

I like melon flavored gatorade and coconut water. I want to try those honey stingers I hear those are really good!

Can’t wait to hear about your next long run! I know that you’re going to savor every mile!! :)

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I am just slow! But I put in more walking breaks because I am really trying to build up and am pretty new at the running thing. My long run is only 4.5 so clearly I am nowhere near where you professionals would consider a long run but someday I will be!

Oh and I don’t need extra fuel just yet but I think I am gonna go with Gu but I am not sure, I am going to read what everyone has said in the comments to see if I should check some out!

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My last long run was a 6 miler. I am at the beginning of half-marathon training. I had to learn to slow down my “easy runs” because I was running them at the same pace as my tempo runs. And I burned out a little bit. I’ve taken things down a notch this week and it’s great greatly improved the quality of my runs.

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Wow this is actually pretty enlightening – I had no idea that there are actual BENEFITS of going slow! I always feel like a schmuck on long runs when I don’t crush it! I just signed up for the Bronx Half which is in ohh…two weeks? Three weeks? I can’t count. So I guess I’d better get training!

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Interesting stuff!!!!!!! I definitely have trouble slowing down….I loove to run fast! hahaha

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A friend at yoga JUST introduced me to Cytomax. He uses it because he was cramping during/after class.

I think when I get my butt back to long runs I will try it for sure. I usually stick to powerade, but I am intrigued with Cytomax’s nutritional profile!

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I’m with you on the slowing down! It’s SO hard for me. My last long run was on May 15th, at the Toronto Half Marathon. I’m still healing from my sprained tendons in both my feet. So, my long runs right now are 2K and I can say that I have learnt the slow down lesson the hard way too.

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I have been so bad about holding back while on my long runs. My last long run was Sunday (15 miles) and I ran an 8:00 pace with negative splits! Not cool.

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oh i NEEDED to “hear” er read this!!!

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During my cross-country days, our coach ALWAYS insisted that we run our long runs slow. I know that it prevented me from injury and also helped my body grow stronger, with time. I am so glad that you posted this as many of my friends think that the best way to train is LOTS of miles all the time as FAST as you can ALL the time. My experience and education has taught me otherwise.
I would love to read more about your speed workouts and what you have read about them. Thanks for your blog. Love, love, love it!

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I love that I get to run slower on long runs. I try to just take my time and really enjoy all of my beautiful surroundings. Plus, I always run with my best friend so it works out to have a few hours of chatty girl time.

Last week I ran 18 miles and tomorrow morning, dark and early, I’m running 19. Only 2 more long runs until TOU!!!! :)

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Thank you for the post. I am a newbie runner, and I always thought I was suppose to run the long run at race pace. I am going to stop worrying so much about the pace from now on.

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YAY for learning to slow down!! Don’t want to get injured again! My long run is going to be Saturday (I actually cringe right now thinking about it, but thats because I’m wiped out. lol). I’m going to try 11 miles!!!
waiitttt- you can chew skittles and run at the same time? I’d probably choke if I tried to do that. they don’t call me ‘gracey’ for nothing. ;) lmbo

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I’m training for my second ultra marathon and I’m in the same boat, trying to learn how to slow down during my LR’s. I’m doing it, but I would prefer to run at my “normal fast pace”. I’m training doing back to back LRs. The last time I ran was this weekend, sat & sunday.

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Great, great, great advice and something I am really trying to work on. Recover runs are actually for recovery, imagine that? I have learned that if I run with a partner I am able to run much slower. I try to do my recovery runs with my sister because I know she is slower, and that I just want to talk her ear off, and that pace truly does not matter. My training has seriously been so much more successful since I have started taking easy days easy!

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Totally agree on the slowing down … But took me to develop in the understanding – once I understood, I was “lazy” to check the Nike+ app on my iPhone (taking it out of pocket or something. So I actually start to be able to control myself only since I got the Garmin. But it’s mentally and sometimes also physically challenging … Sometimes I think I am going easy 9 min/mile and I am actually almost 60 seconds faster, slowing down ain’t easy! (http://ontherun.barborkas.cz/2011/06/getting-ready-for-olomouc-half-tempo.html)

Last long run was about two weeks ago and not really long, only 9 miles.

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I ran the Rock N Roll Half in Providence last Sunday, that was the longest I’ve run since my marathon. I had the intention of running 16 yesterday, but Mother Nature had other plans for me, so I only managed 8. Hoping for 18 this weekend, I only have 3 long run opportunities left between now and my next Marathon!

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After spending the last year trying to speed up and be a faster runner, I am struggling to really slow down and take it easier on long runs and on recovery runs. It’s harder than it sounds! I have done 20milers on the last two Saturdays, only a little faster than I should have (I’m trying, and doing better!), but nice and consistent pace throughout both long runs so that is very encouraging. At least I know I’m not going too fast in the beginning and being dead at the end. :)

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Great site and good back and forth advice. I am working up (again) to a half-marathon, and then hopefully (again) up to 18-20 mile long runs for a full marathon. I was on track last fall and was doing 16 miles in about 2 hrs. 35 minutes. Just under 10 minutes per mile. I think this was too fast because it exhausted me. I got hurt (non-running related, lifting 80-pound bags of cement, yes I am an idiot) and had to stop running for two months. That was tough. Now, I am back at around 25 miles per week, and running four times a week: Monday 5, Wednesday 6, Thursday 6, and Saturday 9 or so. I have a half in Prescott, AZ on May 4th, 2013. That will be my long run for the week.

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