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Most of the time, long runs are run at an easy pace; the goal is just to accrue time on your feet to build endurance.
In fact, proponents of long slow distance runs (LSD) say that running your long runs too fast is actually counterproductive because it’s overly taxing on the body and the same benefits can be gleaned in a less taxing way by running much slower.
With that said, there’s also a camp of running coaches and experts that believe that dialing back the overall distance of the long run but adding in some intensity is actually a more effective way to train for the marathon or half marathon. These types of long runs can also be useful if time does not permit you to reach the overall distance on your training plan.
If you’re looking to shake things up, consider trying this progressive long run. Make sure to do this workout at least 3 weeks before race day, or even earlier in your training block.
If you are training for a half marathon, run 10 miles. If you are training for a marathon, the long run will be 18 miles.
Half Marathon Progression Long Run: 10 miles
- 3 miles easy
- 3 miles at marathon pace
- 3 miles at goal half marathon pace
- 1 mile easy if you’re a beginner, or maintain half marathon pace to the end if you’re an advanced runner
Marathon Progression Long Run: 18 Miles
- Begin at a easy run pace (90-120 seconds slower than goal marathon pace)
- 3-6 miles: 90 seconds per mile slower than goal marathon pace
- 6-9 miles: 60 seconds per mile slower than goal marathon pace
- 9-12 miles: 30 seconds slower per mile than goal marathon pace
- 12-18 miles goal marathon pace, finishing with a kick
Both of these progressive long runs are quite challenging and tiring, so be sure to focus on recovery in the 48 hours after the workout.