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Long Run Pace

Long run pace is something I always struggle with.  According to my goal marathon time, I should be doing my long runs anywhere from 8:37 to 9:44 min/mile.  The last time I ran a long run at 8:37 was the 11 miler I did the day after the 5 mile race that I won. 🙂 Other than that, I’m always running faster and I know I need to slow down.  Mentally though, I find it very difficult to slow down that much.

The weekend after my Boston disaster. I decided to tackle my long run a little differently.  I did an easy 11 miles at around 8:35/mile, then 7 miles at 7:25/mile and then 4 miles at 8:40/mile.  It really was the best 22 miler I had ever done.  Having that easy start with those tougher miles in the middle followed by a cool down made it go by so much quicker and I loved it.  In preparation for my 18 miler this weekend, I wanted to look into what other people had to say about the long run pace.  Today, I’m going to focus on what Jack Daniels (not the liquor) has to say…

Jack Daniels:

When you do your long (L) runs, you should run at a pace which is very close to (E) (easy-run) velocity, which is about 70% of V02max. Long runs (L), improve cell adaptation, and lead to glycogen depletion and fluid loss (important considerations for distance runners), but should not be demanding in terms of the intensity (pace) being utilized.

Daniels’ popularized running formula is used to calculate your VDOT and from there, you can determine your pace for certain workouts as well as projected finish times for other races.  I’m more focused on the long run but you can read more about his formula here and here.  Daniels, along with other running experts suggest running the first part of your long run at your easy pace and then gradually accelerate to marathon pace over the last 8-10 miles.  I found this awesome (and very detailed) calculator that uses Daniels’ running formula to plan your long runs.  The long runs include miles at an easy pace, miles at marathon pace, and miles at tempo pace.  Luckily this isn’t for every long run, but instead for every other long run – depending on which plan you follow.  I need something like this to break up the long run.  It helps me so much mentally and I think I would do well following this type of workout.  Assuming that I still stick to doing other long runs at a steady easy pace…

I’d love to know if anyone else has used Daniels’ running formula to train for a race or if you have any other long run pace suggestions.  Until then, I’m looking forward to changing things up this Saturday.

Sending many happy running thoughts your way,


Check out my green smoothie from this morning… it’s so green!! But it was delicious and it helped me to have a fabulous hill workout.


7 Comments Post a comment
  1. As a certified running coach, I can tell you that Jack Daniels running programs are excellent. I rank his much higher than a lot of the other name brand programs out there. I feel as runners we tend to emphasize pace based on an “end goal” like the running calculators show, but in reality they are just guides. In other words, we tend to focus on pace, pace, pace.. But its an arbitrary number. Some days you may not be able to keep pace due to heat, level of previous rest, terrain, etc. Pushing pace just adds to training fatigue.

    Mr. Daniels is a big proponent of running based on perceived effort and feel. He tends to throw a lot of “exercise science” terminology around and can sometimes seem more like a scientist, but that is good. His programs are very sound and have a great track history of being physiological accurate. Vo2, anaerobic, threshold, etc.. can sometimes overwhelm people. It is better to think in terms of varying distance, judicious use of various intensity levels, etc and people will come out much better. Again, unless you want to be a lab rat, most people don’t even know where they stand when talking in these terms other than they know they should improve those things.

    I have trained hundreds of runners through my local running group and podcast, and I have switched almost entirely to effort based long runs. Most people run the long runs too fast and the speed runs too slow.

    Many people also focus heavily on heart rate monitors, but unless you get “officially” tested for your max heart rate your guessing at your zones at best. In fact, most people with a little bit of training can actually find the correct zone within 2-3% just by using effort.

    Sometimes, I recommend experienced runners to slightly pick up the pace if they are within 25-30% of the end of the long run and it seemed easy to them, but it really does not take much level of aerobic effort to create the physiological adaptations you need for the long run. Its not about speed, but creating physiological adaptation to be more efficient at energy storage, fat burning(as a fuel source), time on your feet, WITHOUT over doing it and making it seem like a race which will impact your training over the days that follow if you go too hard. Leave faster runs for speed training, etc.. With inexperienced or new runners, I sometimes think they should hold back (and not speed up towards the end of a long run) in order to prevent overtraining which is common with new runners. More common than most people think.

    I think your on the right track, and Mr. Daniels is the top 1-2 people in this field in my opinion. Good luck in your training! (Sorry for the long post… I get wordy 😉


    August 2, 2012
    • Steve, thanks for the awesome comment! I’m definitely one of those people who run long runs too fast. I can get so focused on what the Garmin says instead of what my body says. I’ll remember to keep effort in mind this weekend. I think I just might have to read Daniels’ book 🙂

      August 2, 2012
      • No problem. Glad to help (or at least voice my opinion). Keep in mind “all training works” as long as there is a stress placed on the body in which it can adapt to (via rest). The key is finding what works for you. Just because this approach works for many, does not mean you can’t try other things. That is why some people can run long run paces 15-30 seconds slower than goal pace, and others run 1-2 minutes slower than goal based. But sticking with effort is always a great start!

        August 2, 2012
  2. I agree with Steve, and Daniels isn’t the only successful coach to argue for running more runs (including long runs) by feel. Lydiard took the same approach, though his definition of the “steady state” effort recommended for long runs was a bit more aggressive than most. I leave my watch on time of day now for most runs and don’t get mile splits, so I just target a given time (say, 2:30 for a 20 miler) and take whatever distance that time gives me. That way I don’t worry about pace. Of course, if I’m doing any portion of the run at marathon pace, then I do use the watch and splits to help calibrate the effort.
    I think runners place far too much emphasis on the pace for long runs (and for most training in general), in both directions – many try to push to hard, and many try to take it too easy (though it is hard to do the latter). Any good “workout” (as opposed to a general aerobic or recovery run) should leave you feeling winded, but as if you have another 10% or so left at that given effort level.

    August 2, 2012
    • I use to leave the watch at home for my easy runs during the week, but I know I would really struggle with that for the long run. BUT I’m definitely willing to try it for my easy long runs. 🙂 I could also try just leaving the watch on time of day for my tempo runs. I mean, I didn’t always have a Garmin telling me how fast as I was going so I’m sure I can manage. I’ll work on keeping that 10% idea in mind. Thanks as always for your comments!

      August 2, 2012

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