In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, Endurance Athlete faculty member Rachel Selina discusses how to help your athletes develop a healthy mindset around their longer runs, including progressing them gradually, running them intentionally slow, using them to practice for race day, and how they can translate to the race.
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All right. Good morning, everyone. And welcome back to the PT on Ice Daily Show. My name is Rachel Salina, and I’m a TA with our Endurance Athlete Division. So I’m happy to be here on a Fitness Athlete Friday. to be able to talk to you about a running topic. So that’s where we’re going today. We’re going to talk about the long run and specifically a couple do’s and don’ts about that long run. And the reason I’m bringing this up is that in working with a lot of running groups and with running clients, there seems to be just this like, perception of the long run, right, that like long training run each week as just this like super utmost important, like the only important thing of a training cycle. And so I want to do this topic today to just kind of help us and help us help our patients and clients to kind of reshape their mindset. about the long run to have a healthy mindset of what it actually is and what it’s not and how that can be utilized. So I’m going to keep it really simple. We’ve got two do’s and we’ve got two don’ts.
DO: USE LONG RUNS TO TEST YOUR RACE DAY PLANS
Our first do is do use the long run to test your race day plan. All right, it gives us an opportunity to test out everything we want to actually use race day, whether that’s clothing or food. And this is kind of where that advice, I guess, if you’re a runner, you’ve probably heard this, or you maybe have said it to people, don’t try anything new on race day. This is kind of speaking to that. There’s value in that advice. So think about if you have your favorite pair of shorts and tank top that feels super comfortable for a one hour run, and you’re planning to wear that on race day, but you’ve never worn it for longer than whatever, an hour and a half. Right? Maybe that same combination does not feel comfortable once it’s like two hours saturated in sweat. And maybe it starts to chafe, but you wouldn’t have known that if you didn’t test it. Right? So you use the long run to test your clothing. That way, you know, either you need to change your clothing to something different or know how to like use body glide or something like that to prevent chafing. But it also gives your runners a chance to test their hydration and their nutrition strategy. So using that long run when the body’s going to be working longer to see how do they feel with taking goos and chews and gels, like that kind of thing, like kind of fake food. Does their stomach and their gut tolerate that? If you haven’t tested that before going into race day, like you can set yourself up for a not great situation with just not knowing how your body will respond. So can you, you know, have Can you test the fuel that you plan to use on race day? Can you test the clothing that you plan to use on race day? Are you comfortable carrying your water? Do you know what the aid stations at this race will have so that you can start to practice with what those products are? So do use the long run as a test for race day.
DO: GRADUALLY PROGRESS LONG RUNS
Our second do is do progress that long run gradually over a training cycle. So just like we have the 10% rule for kind of our overall progression of running volume, we can kind of think of the long run itself, like that one longer distance run in the week, following a similar pattern. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be like stick to only 10% or always 10%, but just the idea that it should, as overall running volume is progressing, that’s when that long run volume should also progress. So it wouldn’t make sense if someone maybe starts out and one of the weeks they’re doing a 10 mile long run because that’s what they have time for. But the next week, like maybe they have vacation from work or they’re on vacation, something like that. They have more time and they decide they’re gonna go do 16 that week just because they can fit it in. We’re not setting the body up in a great way to tolerate that longer stimulus if we haven’t gradually built up to it. So what the actual number for the long run is will obviously depend on what distance of a race you’re doing and what the experience of that runner is. But just using that concept of progressing it gradually as the training cycle is also progressing.
DON’T: COUNT ON THE LONG RUN TO BE MAGIC
For our first don’t, don’t count on the long run to be magic. And I think this is where a lot of the mind like kind of the unhealthy mindset is. We get it in our mind that like that’s the only important run of a cycle of that week. Right. If nothing else, I need to get that long run in because that’s what’s going to make me more fit and better prepared for my race. But really the mileage there is the same importance as our mileage through the rest of the week. There’s nothing different about it. Like it’s still just mileage and time on the feet and giving the body time to make those adaptations to become a better runner. So we can get in a really sticky spot if, again, this is a situation like I know I’ve been in, I’ve heard from other people that when they’re struggling with this, like think of the person that gets really busy during the week, okay? They’re supposed to maybe have three or four like shorter or middle distance runs during the week. The week gets really busy, maybe kids were sick, there was an issue at work, like whatever combination of things that build up a lot, like, and make that person decide to not hit those kind of less important, um, weekday runs. And then, but the thought is they’re like, Oh, well, it’s okay. Like that stuff doesn’t matter as much. I just have to hit this long run on the weekend and I’ll be good. Like that’s, what’s going to get me prepared. But then we have this big gap rate of, well, even if you hit 15 miles over the weekend, but we missed. 10 miles during the week, like we’re still not building and progressing in a way that’s going to best prepare our bodies for that, that event. Um, just because we hit the long run mileage and we actually can set up for just a not great situation if all of our mileage is happening on like one specific day. So don’t count on that long run to be magic, right? Or other runs or other volume are just as important.
DON’T: RUN YOUR LONG RUNS TOO FAST
And then our second, don’t, right? Don’t run the long run too fast. It’s supposed to be longer, slower training, building those physiological adaptations, right? Our long run is not our race. If we race pace every single long run during training, right? We’re not training, we’re just racing those days. So keep long run, cases, moderate, conservative, right? You can work in some shorter intervals into a long run or maybe do some pickups as a strategy to test that pace when you are fatigued or encouraging your runners to do that. But in general, we wanna keep our faster running, our fast paces, interval work, tempo work on days separate from that long run stimulus, right? Keep each day distinct. Know what the intention is for that day. Explain to your patients what you want from that run, right? And leave the speed work, the fast work to a day when you can fully capitalize on that intention and on that work. Kind of a, maybe like a quick way to think of, is my long run too intense? Would be if you can get back to running again in within two days. If you do such a long distance run or it’s so intense that you are just trash, like I cannot run again, I’m so sore, I’m so tired, I can’t run for three days, right? Again, we’re setting either ourselves up or our patients are setting themselves up to not hit the rest of their weekly volume because they’re needing those extra recovery days because they push the long run too much. So keep it conservative. It should be something you can recover from and be back to running again within one to two days. So that’s it. Super simple, right? Two do’s. Do use the long run to test your race day plan. Do progress that run, that long run volume gradually over the training cycle. Don’t count on the long run to be magic. Know what it can do and what it can’t do. and then don’t run that long run too fast. So that’s it. Like I said, I hope you can use this personally or to help your clients kind of develop a better mindset about the long run and kind of how they view their whole training.
If you are interested in working with runners or you already do and you wanna expand your knowledge, we have our next cohort of Rehabilitation of the Injured Runner Online is coming up March 5th. So registration is open for that on PTUNICE.com. You can jump in. And then our first live course will not be until June. It’s June 1st and 2nd, just outside of Milwaukee. So we’d love to have you either online, live, both, either one. Feel free to jump into one of those. Otherwise, take advantage of the super warm weather we’re having. It’s odd, it’s 60 degrees in Michigan right now. So go outside, get a run in, and have a great weekend. Thanks.
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