There is really only one way that I am going to achieve my goal to run a 50-mile race by age 50. To build endurance, I will need to periodically increase the distance of my training runs. Simply put, to run longer, I must — run longer. This is the cornerstone of many running programs, whether someone is training to run a 10K, half-marathon, marathon, or ultra-marathon.
The increases in distance have to be gradual, and far enough apart to allow the body to recover from the wear and tear that occurs on a long run. As stated in my last column, I tend to follow the training program in Jeff Galloway’s book “Marathon!” Galloway advises increasing one’s long run by one mile each weekend until the weekly long run reaches 10 miles. At that point, increase the long run by two miles every other weekend, with the weekend in between being a much shorter distance for the purpose of recovery.
Once one reaches 18 miles, increase the weekend long runs by three miles every third week, with two weekends of reduced mileage between each long run weekend. In a nutshell, endurance can be built by gently stressing the body by a gradual pattern of increases, rest enough to recover and rebuild, and regular maintenance (shorter runs) during the week so that the muscles will maintain their conditioning.
It is important to point out that the long run should be run approximately 2 minutes per mile slower than you feel like you can run on that given day. Force yourself to slow down. Take many walk breaks. In other words, it is a long, easy run. Galloway stresses that there is no endurance loss to the slower pace and incorporated walk breaks. Twenty miles at a slow pace with walk breaks equals 20 miles run continuously from an endurance standpoint.
Now confession time… I am falling behind schedule on my own long runs. The last increase I made was to 14 miles on Feb. 26. By now I should be at about 18 miles, so I will have to get a least 16 miles done this Sunday. (To jump to 18 miles would be too large an increase.)
On another note, I got a little “speedwork” in last weekend. My three boys and I ran in the 32nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day 10K Run at Mission Bay Park. It was raining and the wind was blowing fairly hard, but I was pleased with my time of 45:55 (7:24/mi pace) for my first 10K (6.2 miles) in about 25 years. My son James (14) ran 41:37 (6:42/mi) and placed first in the 13-17 age division. His twin, Matthew, ran 43:05 (6:57/mi), fourth for his age division. Colton (12) finished in 49:57 (8:03/mi), first for the 12 and under division. A shout-out to other Ramonans who braved the wind and rain: A. Campos, R. Nunnally, J. Nunnally, and S. Lavigne. Go, Ramona!
Now get out and run —long and easy.