Friday, April 9, 2010

The Long Run

Every runner has a different number in their head as to what is considered a long run. I have been reading "How to Train for and Run Your Best Marathon" by Gordon Bakoulis Bloch. He has some interesting points on all aspects of training but with a 17 miler looming tomorrow I was going over what he had to say about Long Runs. He talks about what goes on with your body when you run long and hard. I'll try to sum up:

There are two main types of fuel that muscles use during physical activity: carbohydrate and fat. He says that in general, the more intense an activity is, the greater is the proportion of carbohydrate used to fuel it. Those activities that are performed at a very low intensity use fat as fuel.

Every pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories worth of energy. Given that, and the fact that running consumes about 100 calories per mile, you could run more than a marathon on the energy that is contained in just one pound of fat.

Carbs are different though. They are stored in two different forms: glucose in the bloodstream and glycogen in the working muscles. The body can only hoard enough carbs to power about 1,500 calories worth of activity.

What does that have to do with the long run? Well Gordon says that the "long run" is running for a time beyond which the body runs out of carbohydrate and must burn primarily fat. For the average aerobically fit person who is NOT training for a marathon that is done between 90 minutes and 2 1/2 hours. When you run out of carbohydrate your pace slows dramatically or you "hit the wall".

Long run help train your body to spare carbohydrate. Burning carbohydrate stores over a long period trains the body to postpone the point at which these stores are exhausted. So with each long run, the body will use more fat and less carbohydrate. Ideally the runner will be able to run the entire marathon without hitting the wall, or at least postpone that point until late in the race.

When ever possible, do those long runs with friends. It makes it so much EASIER MENTALLY! It is beneficial to occasionally run them alone though. It turns the run into more of an exercise in mental concentration.

A few of Gordon's tips for those long runs:
* Eat properly the day before and the morning of {high carb dinner, drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids}
* Get up early
* Make sure you have water available for the entire run
* Know your route in advance
* Wear the right clothes
* You MUST cool down, stretch, shower, change, fuel and hydrate {take 15-20 minutes and lie down}
* Check weather conditions
* Avoid heavy duty activities for right after a long run
* Go to bed EARLY

Looking forward to this 17 miler tomorrow. I little nervous; it is 17 MILES afterall!! But I ended up having a tooth get infected {from a root canal a year ago}; Wednesday the dentist re-drilled the poor tooth to death and I have been MISERABLE since. I'm going to run it either way though!!


Scott and Manda said...

I hope your run went well! Way to stay positive even while in post-dental agony!

Lisa said...

Leslie! You're my hero!

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