Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Run Faster Run Longer

Run faster run longer

I get questions all the time from Soldiers on how to improve their run times and run faster.

Do a long run each week! It is, without question, the most important training tactic to not only run faster times but is the important foundation you have to lay if you are committed to improving.


Long run mastery

The long run teaches your body to store glycogen or carbohydrate more so that your body uses fat more efficiently.

Ever see the Kenyans finish a race?

They are usually smiling as if they are warming up after running 26.2 miles under 5 minutes per mile pace.

Faster efforts yield results

Why is that?

They have trained themselves to run faster, through doing consistent long runs to use fat as more of a fuel source than carbohydrate.

They have adapted their bodies, through long runs each week, to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in their blood stream.

The key to doing that is hard workouts and long runs.

Greg McMillan, coach of the Adidas sponsored McMillan Elite headquarted out in Flagstaff states,

there are three physiological adaptations that occur when you run for a long period of time and they are enzymatic, musculoskeletal and capillary

What he means is that when you run long you build capillary beds and enzymes within the blood to help transport more oxygen to your working muscles, which will give you the ability to run longer and run faster.

Quality over Quantity

Arthur Lydiard had his men running upwards of 25 miles for their long runs. He trained Peter Snell, who was an 800 meter specialist, to run longer than his counterparts because he knew how strong Snell would become from running longer.

The result? Peter Snell went on to win an Olympic Gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics and went on to set a world record time of 1.44.3 in 1962. I told my friend and 2.14 marathoner, Nate Jenkins, during one of my training build ups

I did 15 miles today at 5.40 pace

Jenkins, in true Renato Canova fashion says,

Well thats good but does that really prepare you to race 26.2 miles at 5.18 pace.

Obviously, we all have various goals and times we want to run.

Pace over distance

For me, it is 5.18 pace or better, for someone else it could be 9-10 minute mile pace. The key is not to neglect running long.

We had a saying while I was competing at Malone College and we would repeat it during rest periods between our intervals to try to offset the pain we were in (it didn't help), “Hurt, Adapt!”.

You get the physiological benefits of a long run, not during, but after the workout. You deal with the pain and than while you sleep you reap the benefits. If you want to know more about this I strongly encourage you to read up on supercompensation.

Increase energy production

The more oxygen you can bring to your muscles, the better your performance will be.

The long run should be the bread and butter workout to do in order to run easier and farther. There are no short cuts.

Look at anyone who does something successfully, they have practised it over and over. The long run is the key component in making you a stronger runner.

The military has a two mile run we do during our Physical fitness tests. Soldiers surely do not lack for wanting challenges.

Strength in distance

I simply refuse to believe that every Soldier could better there run times simply by learning to run farther. Thing about it. If I get a Soldier to run 10 miles every Sunday for 4 weeks straight. What is a 2 mile run going to feel like afterward?

Well, it may still be hard considering it is an all-out effort, but how much more prepared and confident will that Soldier be knowing he or she has done what the others have not been committed enough to do? It's a no-brainer!

My coach, Lisa Rainsberger, while a part of the Army World Class Athlete Program, always stressed to me the importance of the long run.

Length time spent at goal pace

You should never run hard early on in your long runs, start easy, build the foundation, than gradually lengthen and speed up the effort in your weekly long run.

Distance can start as little as 4 miles  building up to as far as 25 miles. Lisa, the last American female to win the Boston Marathon, understands this very well. She won with a time of 2.34.04. No American has won since 1985.

Lastly, look at the great runners, what do they do? What characteristic do they possess? They are consistent, persistent and lastly, they run long!

The long run was the one training tool I had and utilized religiously, week after week, to drop my marathon best time from 2.43.36 to 2.19.35.

I cannot stress the importance of disciplining yourself to find the joy in doing one long run per week. I guarantee if you do, you will not only run much more comfortable, but you will gain all the physiological and psychological benefits that come a long the way.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Please feel free to leave a comment. I hope this was helpful. Please send me your feedback as to what areas of training you are would like written about. Any area I can assist you with.

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