Long Fast Distance

If you’re a distance runner, or even beginning to train for your first half or full marathon, you’ve most likely heard testimony on the benefits of Long Slow Distance (LSD).

There’s no question that putting in lots of miles – like the marathon staple long run on weekends – will help runners improve through better running endurance, economy and fitness. Most distance runners, if there were just one type of run they could use in training, would choose Long Slow Distance.

But there’s also a tremendous benefit to Long Fast Distance (LFD), which is what I consider my run today. It actually wasn’t long – 13 miles including my cooldown – in comparison to my true long runs. But it was faster than most weekend runs.

It’s important to remember that fast is a relative term: What’s fast for me is slow to a lot of runners. And someone else’s fast might be slow for me. When talking about fast long distance training, it’s not about pace in comparison to others – rather it’s pace compared to your typical training runs.

Technically, my run today was a 90-minute progression run: 30 minutes easy, 30 minutes at medium effort and 30 minutes at medium-hard effort. Plus some time thrown on the end, basically a cooldown, because I still had to get home. A couple benefits of this workout are worth pointing out: You teach your body to run fast when its tired and you develop improved running efficiency by going faster. But you also develop an edge mentally as you gain confidence in running faster further into a run.

I’m a big fan of the 90-minute progression run – I’m hoping it will help me finally tackle the one distance workout that I struggle with most: the fast finish run (an example would be running the last 6-8 miles of an 18-mile run at marathon pace). Believe me, if you do the progression run correctly, afterward you will dismiss concerns about running a few fewer miles because your legs will be sore and tired.