7 Workouts For Long Distance Runners That Work

Workouts For Long Distance Runners

These workouts for long distance runners are not only physical but mental.

It is the mental side of training that we fail to utilize that often in our running goals and put most of our emphasis on physical training.

I have been competing for over 23 years, the last 7 years at the national and international level and can say with quite a bit of confidence that these mental and physical workouts will take your running to a new level in 2015 and beyond.

1. Keep your training simple

What do I mean?

Stop counting miles, posting every workout you do on facebook so everyone can froth at the mouth over your training splits and miles per week.

It is a waste of your time.

I was coached by the last American female to win the Boston Marathon, Lisa Rainsberger, from 2007 to 2010 while a member of the United States Army World Class Athlete Program.

She would always tell me.

Nate, we didn’t have Facebook and social media when I competed. We trained hard and left it at that.

Our workouts we so easily display on social media doesn’t do a thing for anyone else.

Will it provide some ohhh’s and ahhhh’s from your loyal followers?

Perhaps but it is nothing earth shattering.

It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.

If your reasoning behind sharing what you are doing is for the purpose of helping others then by all means, continue to do so, often times runners do this just to show off and let others know what they are doing.

I very rarely, if at all, discuss any form of training I am doing anymore.

This hasn’t been a practice of mine for years now.


Telling people what I did my repeats miles at on the track or how many miles I ran last week does nothing for the health of another human being.

It doesn’t help an individual have more time with their loved ones and doesn’t put money in their pockets.

If you want to run faster in 2015 let the main thing be the main thing and keep your mind and efforts in your work.

Let your feet to the talking when you race and then, if you wish, post your race result.

Talking is easy, everyone does it, the doing part and keeping it stealthy is a bit more challenging.

2. Focus on increasing your long run pace

If you have a specific goal in mind then specific training needs to come into play.

If you have a goal of running a 2:37 marathon and are asking of yourself to maintain 6:00 per mile pace for 26.2 miles doing 20-24 mile long runs at 7:45 pace isn’t going to cut it.

The Kenyans make it look easy for a reason.

They train extremely hard and have the guts and fortitude to run slower than you can imagine on their easy days.

I have trained with 2:11-14 Kenyan marathoners that train at 10:00 mile pace or slower on their easy days.

These are men that can hold 5:02-10 pace for 26.2 miles

Their long runs are not leisurely strolls.

They are calculated assaults that start modestly and sometimes end in an all out sprint.

I know because I have trained and lived with some of the world’s top runners.

Long runs should be conducted at around 160 beats per minute which is above 80% of your max heart rate.

Now, with this being said, do not think that I feel as though the runner should do these harder paced long runs every week.

One week should be harder effort, the next very easy to recover.

3. Take your easy days easy

One of the biggest hurdles focused runners make it they overemphasize pace on their easy days.

I usually do one run per week with my wife (a 3:23:11 marathoner) and her easy pace hovers around 8:20-30 pace per mile, sometimes slower, sometimes faster.

Let me clear with this.

There are world-class men I have trained with who run slower than this on their easy days.

8:20 pace is not slow by the way.

This may be race pace for you so ensuring to respect people and their abilities in the mark of a champion.

Always consider your fellow man at all times and never think of yourself more highly then someone else.

There are people who will never run as fast as we can but it also doesn’t mean they are any less of an athlete.

Our self-worth doesn’t comprise of how fast we can run.

You may think that sounds odd coming from an athlete who has maintained 5:19 pace for 26.2 miles but it isn’t.

Slow is relative.

Running slow is crucial if you are to expect to improve.

We live in a culture where working harder is rewarded when sometimes working smarter is what is needed to really take your running to a new level.

You have to make the commitment to take your easy days easy, throw pace out the window.

Throw off your watch and stop worrying about what splits you hit each mile.

Your focus should be 100% on those hard, sustained efforts.

If you want to run faster, put all your mind power into those hard, prolonged efforts but also have the discipline to back off when you know you should.

The great athletes know how to do this well.

4. Visualize

Napoleon Hill, the author of the smash hit, Think and Grow Rich, states that our thoughts are energy and magnetic.

They attract to us what we visualize on a regular basis.

What are you feeling your mind with?

Is it doubt or is it complete faith in a time or performance you dream about.

I can tell you, on a daily basis I visualize seeing 2:14:35 on the finish clock.

I spend approximately 30 minutes per day seeing myself coming into the finish line of a marathon with that time on the clock.

This is exactly 5 minutes faster then I have ever run for the distance.

Billy Mills, the 1964 10,000m gold medalist, stated

The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination.

If you hold an image in your mind long enough with a defined plan of action to get it, it will be yours.

I think of a great Biblical verse where Christ states,

Whatever you ask for in prayer (thoughts) believe that you have recieved it, and it will be yours

What Christ means is whatever goal you have in mind on either the track or road you have to believe you already hold it.

I know this statement is 100% true, with no doubt whatsoever.

In 2007, I arrived to the Army World Class Athlete Program with a 51:51 10-mile and a 2:43:36 marathon best.

I didn’t belong in such a class of great athletes but in my mind I knew I was capable of breaking the minimum time of 2:22:00 or faster for the marathon to be considered a legitimate member of that prestigious military unit.

I had to go through some failures but in 10-months time I was a 2:19:35 marathoner and was the owner of National ranking and an Olympic Trials “A” standard time.

You faith and determination has to be so strong.

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If you have the willingness to go after your goals wholeheartidly with no reservations you will make it to your goal.

Write down your goals, see it written out.

The fact that you are writing your goals and regularly reviewing them on paper re-wires your brain cells and trains the subconscious mind to bring you to it.

This is not fallacy but fact.

We, as runners, spend little time training the mind as sufficiently as we train our bodies.

5. Train faster than your goal pace

This is common sense but not always common practice.

If you are missing your goals in your racing, it isnt that you don’t have the capacity to obtain them.

Specific pace goals require your ability to clear lactic acid faster then it is building up in your blood stream.

The real culprit of us slowing down is not lactic acid but a component of it, the hydrogen ion, that shuts down muscle functioning.

The only way to overcome this deficiency is by training at higher heart rates and efforts.

You cannot be in a rush when doing this.

Training at harder paces puts an enormous demand on our oxygen carrying capacity.

The name of the game when it comes to holding pace longer is being more determined, patient and persistent then the next guy or gal, end of story.

Don’t try to force your fitness, let it come to you.

If you cannot hold 5 miles at your goal marathon race pace.

So what, if it is early on in your training block, de-compress, relax and try again a few days later.

The body always adapts to the demands we place on it but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Statistically, it takes approximately 21 days for any psychological adaptation to occur within the body as well as to change any habit they we have.

There has to be a precise plan of action you must take and be willing to follow through on.

Short-cuts to success don’t work in running.

The faster you train and the longer you hold these sustain efforts, the easier race pace is going to feel and the greater capacity you will have taught your body to clear lactic acid and convert it back to energy.

Great workouts for long distance runners to get race pace to feel more comfortable are:

5x1K on the track with shorter rest periods as fitness increases

30x1min hard/1 min easy on the roads (often called fartleks)

repeat miles on the track starting at 3 minutes rest early in your training block to 1 minute rest when extremely fit

3x5K on the roads at half-marathon goal race pace (if training for a marathon)

repeat 200’s on the track – great for aerobic capacity training (heart rate at 168+BPM)

These are only a few examples of many variations runners can use to train at paces faster then they wish to race at.

6. Do short, extremely high intensity runs every other day

These do not have to be long in length but the key here is to recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers which, in turn aid the oxygen carrying capacity of the body.

Easy running will never produce this physiological effect, only hard running can.

Focus on healthy living, what you eat, products you use in your home.

The great thing about this is the runs are too short to really tax the body to a point so you can do a harder workout the next day without feeling any ill-effects.

The key is doing these short bursts over a period of weeks and months to the point that you notice considerable gains in your training and racing.

The heart doesnt have to work as hard and even moderately difficult paces feel much more in control because you spend a period of weeks and month, on top of your regular training, at speeds that far exceed your goal race pace.

Keep this in mind as you move along into your 2015 training.

These sprints can range in distance from 100 meters to 2 minutes in length.

The key is to provide full recovery between sets because they are extremely difficult and will ask everything out of you as you conduct them.

7. Remain Vigilant

What do I mean?

Be more persistent than the guy or gal to your right or left.

The biggest difference between the successful and unsuccessful in any pursuit is someone, somewhere wants it badly and is going to be willing to put the work in that you will be unwilling to do.

Him who would ignite a fire in others must himself glow – Dr. Joe Vigil, world renowned exercise physiologist and Olympic running coach

I see no difference between people who want to make more money but are not willing to do the work as I do with runners.

Running is a commitment and you have to want it and more importantly be willing to do what the majority of people will not.

You try putting in ho-hum type efforts in training and you going to get average results when you race.

Doing hurts, challenges you and will test your mental and physical capacity and someone is willing to do it.

It might as well be you.

The choice is ours and I can assure you, after 30 years in the sport and over 10 years being involved in entrepreneurship and small business goal setting, I am willing to sacrifice to live differently.

I hope these 7 workouts for long distance runners has helped to uplift and motivate you as you move toward your 2022 goals.

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