The Long Run Pace

If you have been running and training for awhile you are familiar with all the paces - speedwork paces, tempo paces, race pace, and then the easy/long run paces. If you are new to running, here is the gist in a nutshell. Your speedwork paces are the fast and shorter duration. Great for intervals. Tempo runs should feel uncomfortably comfortable. And that's my personal spin on it. It is the pace that pushes me and I can hold it for the 3-4 miles on my schedule but it takes some effort. It isn't a walk in the park but I am not dying either. Now those easy paces.....the paces for recovery days and long runs.....I have a real problem with those slow runs.

Here is the logic behind the slower pace - it allows your body to adjust to running longer distances and to build up base without damaging your body too much. Logically, that makes perfect sense. Think of it this way, yesterday's long run of 16 miles was a training run to get me used to running longer distances and gave me time on my feet. It allows me to build endurance. According to the Runner's World Smart Coach app on my iPhone my pace should have been 10'00". Earlier in my training my target was 10'12". Yesterday my overall pace was 10'05" and I honestly still had the target 10'12" in my mind. I hadn't looked at my target paces in awhile. And yesterday I wasn't even listening to splits, I opted to run by feel and ended up running the end of my run faster than the start.

Here are my issues with the long run pace:

  • I have a hard time trusting that getting my body used to running 16-20 miles at 10'00" in training will allow me to run 26.2 miles at 9'07" come race day. And I didn't pick that number out of a hat. That is the pace Smart Coach predicts I will be able to run come race day.
  • I question the impact running at elevation and running hills has on my target pace. Should I make adjustments or stick to it?
  • I didn't ease up too much in my long runs during training for my first marathon and ran even slower come race day.

Essentially, I have a hard time trusting that the easy/long run pace will prepare me for breaking a 4 hour marathon. Like I said earlier, Smart Coach predicts it will. I am not convinced. Perhaps I need to put more trust on the other paces and work in my training. To bring you up to speed, and myself, Smart Coach says my speedwork should be at 7'59" and tempo runs should be at 8'37". I am definitely doing my best to train hard but if you have been following me, you know I wish I had time to do more. I am eager to see how my performance is come September. Stay tuned and I will let you know. I will also let you know if I stick to the Smart Coach formula or shake things up for my training for my next marathon in December.

What do you think of the long run pace?
Does it properly train you to run long at a faster pace?

P.S. In defense of the easy/long run pace - in my last two long runs I have felt strong cardio-wise. It is aches in legs and mental hurdles that I am fighting.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for sunshine and rain.
Daily Affirmation: I have the power to live the life I want to live.


  1. I focus on my endurance on my long runs so pace is not that important to me. I try to stay within a reasonable pace but don't push myself too much.

  2. Here is my experience with the Long Slow Runs.

    I, also, used SmartCoach for my 1st few 1/2s, last year. I questioned it, but followed it as faithfully as possible. Come race day, I was easily able to pick up the speed for many miles. *However*, out of the 7 half-marathons I ran, I had the same, unfortunate experience in 5 of them. When the going got tough, my body reverted to that Long Slow Pace every.single.time.
    The worst part was, I felt like I was FLYING, but I was actually running at that "easy" pace I'd been sticking to for so many weeks. It truly felt like THAT was the pace my body was trained to run.
    Again, this is only my experience. I still stand by the Long, Slow Run for base-building. At this point, though, I'm incorporating some race-paced miles into those runs.
    Hope this helps and good luck!!

  3. I wrote a post a while back on running a faster marathon. I actually divided it into 3 parts, but part 2 covers the long run.

    Two things I did: on a cut back week, where you're running slightly less than your longest distance, divide the total distance by 3. For the first third, run 30 seconds slower tan your goal pace. For the second third, run your goal marathon pace, final third run 30 seconds faster than goal pace.

    Other thing to do is during a regular long run, pick it up to your goal pace for several miles, preferably toward the second half of the run when you're tired.

    More here:

  4. I tried to leave a link to the post but couldn't, either blogger or ipad wouldn't let me. If you are interested, it's called, Marathon Training: Getting Faster, Part 2, if you go to my blog and search for it.

    1. For those who are interested, here is her link: http://livefromlaquinta.com/2012/06/12/marathon-training-getting-faster-part-2/

      It is always good to read what others do and thanks for sharing!

  5. Well, you know I have no worthwhile advice in this regard but I do love to read your posts about your training because you explain your thoughts and I learn so MUCH! Thanks.

    Carry on. :)


Let's chat!