Is My Long Run Pace Too Fast?

Since you run, I know you go out for long runs. It's the bread and butter of what you do. But do you know if you're going too fast or going too slow? Well, I'm Jesse Funk. And on today's episode of Runners High, I'm going to talk about is long run pace to fast.

Since you run, I know you go out for long runs. It's the bread and butter of what you do. But do you know if you're going too fast or going too slow? Well, I'm Jesse Funk. And on today's episode of Runners High, I'm going to talk about is long run pace to fast.

So, you're putting in the mileage, but you're not really sure, are you going too fast, are you going too slow? What's the purpose of these long runs? So, there's actually three main purposes of long runs. The first is aerobic development, the second is muscular endurance, and the third often underutilized is recovery.

The first two purposes, aerobic development and muscular endurance are going to be what the vast majority of your long runs are for. And that makes sense is what we do during the base period of training. So it's the first thing that we want to do when we're working into a new season, improve our aerobic capacity, and improve our ability for our muscles to operate for a longer period of time without failure.

So, how do we calculate this everyday long run pace that we want to use for aerobic capacity and muscular development? Well, if you watch my heart rate training video, you know, we can use maximum heart rate as one way to figure out the different zones and paces that we want to run. This long run pace is going to fall into roughly 65 to 75% of your maximum heart rate.

Like I talked about in that heart rate training video, I actually use a 10 count method to figure out my heart rate, instead of using a heart rate monitor. I'm pretty low tech when it comes to running, so I often talk about rate of perceived exertion and things like that. But to figure out that actual heart rate, we use a 10 count method, which is where you are checking your pulse and counting for 10 seconds to what that number is going to be.

So for example, my maximum heart rate, as of right now is currently around 200 beats per minute. So, that 65 to 75% range for a 10 count is going to be 21 to 25 beats per 10 seconds. And this lines up pretty well with my experience. If I take a-- you know, I go out for a long run, and I do it at a reasonable pace for a long run, I often find that my heart rate for 10 seconds lies around 23 beats.

If you don't use solely heart rate, and you want some kind of second confirmation that you're running the correct pace, you can actually use the Jack Daniels’ running table. Be sure to subscribe to the channel as I talked about the Jack Daniels’ table, VDOT values, heart rate training all in other videos. So, you want to stay tuned for those.

But today, we can use that Jack Daniels’ table to tell us a rough range of what our long run patient be. So, how do we go about using his table? Check down in the description for this video because I'm going to link to a page with an article by Jack Daniels’ that has his running tables in it. You can also pick up his book on Amazon, which explains more of his training methods and has the tables in it.

But for easy reference, he does have them published online. So, what we're going to do is use a recent race result, to figure out what our VDOT value is. And using that, we can reference a whole range of numbers for our training. But specifically for us, we want to know what is our long run value?

So, if I use a recent 5K result, I know my VDOT is roughly around 60 right now, which gives my long run range of between 707 and 614 paces. And this actually jives pretty well with my own experience. I typically run around 645 pace for my long runs; a little slower, a little faster, depending on the day fatigue, heat, all those kind of things.

But we know that those values are going to be a good guide point to figure out, you know, where should we be going if you run or rely on a GPS watch instead of figuring out your heart rate.

Now, if we use Jack Daniels’ table, this is actually something that will change over time. The runner in me still wants to be running with the values from the 65 VDOT line, which was at the peak of my fitness and running in college. But as I've shifted focus over the last decade to trap on, I'm simply not that fast anymore. So, I have to lower my expectations for myself to a current fitness level.

That's why we have to use recent race results to figure out where we are. But on the opposite side, you may still be building up; building your mileage, building your speed getting a little bit faster. So, when you keep in touch with those VDOT values on that table based on your recent race results, that should give you kind of a lower and upper limiter to how fast or slow you should be going for any particular long run.

Now that you've got your values, you know about how fast or slow to run for your long runs for that aerobic capacity and muscular endurance; what about that other thing I mentioned earlier? Recovery. How do we do that? Well, you want to actually run on the low end or maybe slightly slower than that low value from the Jack Daniels table’. The idea with using a long run for recovery is that we want to get more blood circulated through our muscles to aid in recovery, aid in recovery process by reducing the amount of waste that's in your muscles, and to get extra nutrients to them faster.

The trick here is that if you go too fast, you actually are creating more micro-tears in your muscles, thus, adding fatigue and negating the whole purpose of recovery in your long run. So, going at a slower, easier pace, something actually feels almost too easy is going to be more appropriate for this kind of workout, then going in that normal long-run range.

Keep in mind that it takes a certain amount of fitness for somebody to use a long run as recovery. It's often referred to as active recovery. I'm not personally going to suggest it for most people until they're running at least five days a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. It just depends on the athlete, but five days a week, it's typically a good threshold to start thinking about I'm using a long run as recovery.

You should also be doing intervals of some sort to be recovering from to use that long run for recovery. And I talk more about intervals in my mini-series on Runners High; all About interval training and various paces that you do intervals at. So, what do you want to know about running? What do you not know? What's a mystery to you? Leave a comment below, let me know let me answer it for you; what can I help you with and running? I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runners High.

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