The longer the run, the longer you can wait before running another one. In general, the endurance of a long run that is less than 17 miles can be sustained for 2 weeks, provided that the minimal training is done between long runs (mentioned below).
I’ve found that a long run of 17 miles or more can be sustained for 3 weeks. A run of marathon distance or longer allows for 4 weeks between long ones. The programs in GALLOWAY TRAINING PROGRAMS & YEAR ROUND PLAN, for example, include shorter runs on the non-long-run weekend of about half to one-third of the current long run distance. (www.JeffGalloway.com)
Count back from your marathon date by 3-4 weeks and schedule your last long one. Subtract 3 miles on each long run, as you write the long run distance on the calendar date, every third week. When the distance reaches 17 miles and lower, count back two weeks, subtracting 2 miles on each. At 10 miles, subtract one mile, scheduling the runs every 1-2 weeks. For more information, see the books mentioned above.
Pacing can be most accurately set by the “magic mile” which I will explain in my next blog. The bottom line is that you can’t go too slow on long ones. A safe pace for most runners, at 60F, is 2 min/mi slower than realistic marathon goal pace. Again, it is better to run even slower.
After years of noting how much runners slow down in the heat, I’ve come up with a guideline that has worked very well: reduce pace by 30 sec a mile for every 5 degree increase in temperature above 60F. Unfortunately, if you don’t make this adjustment it will be made for you—due to fatigue at the end of the run (and in recovery).
On the non-long-run weekends, run 5-7 miles. Time goal marathoners will schedule their mile repeats on these weekends. The minimum additional training necessary to maintain conditioning is two 30 minute sessions on Tuesday and Thursday.
Next week: The “Magic Mile”