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When is a long run long?

Posted Nov 03 2009 5:51am
When I started running, I considered a run as long if it was any more than one lap around a standard track. Note that I failed at my first few attempts at running that distance without needing a walk break.

Running a whole 5K became an accomplishment. Then running a whole 10K and then a half marathon (except for walking through the water stops). These were races and probably should be consider long "races" not long "runs."

It got me thinking what is a "long run?" There is some mystique and aura (no, not superheroes or dancers of some sort) around the long run as part of marathon training or long distance triathlon training. Is it physical training or is it, perhaps, more mental? More importantly, when does it qualify as an official long run?

I've heard that some people define it as longer than 10 miles. Some define it as longer than 90 minutes (of course there are probably the same folks who run 10 miles in much less than 90 minutes and that ain't me). Some define it as longer than 2 hours. Perhaps longer than a half mary qualifies.

Last weekend I ran 12 miles of run 10 minutes/walk 1. About 8.5 miles in my run (when I was reloading the water bottle), my friend Kathy was starting her run on the same trail. This was her last big run before IMAZ and she had 18 miles on her plan (this of course was after her 100 on the bike the day before). We ran and talked a while together before I had to turn around and head back to rejoin the real world. I thought my run would qualify as long in my mind.

It got me thinking. Should ipods be worn on the long run if the race doesn't allow them? (I'm leaning no but I seem to use my ipod on almost every run). Should you be talking on the run? (I'm leaning yes especially if you will be racing with friends). Would these disqualify the run as long? I settled on no - as long as the miles get done, the miles get done. It can be (and was) slow but the benefits will be realized in January.

Fortunately I'll have more time to think of this as my training runs for the Disney Marathon are getting long by anyone's definition. I hope there will be some time soon when I will look back at this "dirty dozen" that I ran on Sunday and consider it short.

Doubt I would ever consider them easy though.
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