Ask Coach Bradley: How Long Should My Long Runs Be?
Whether you are part of our CARA training programs, working towards your next 5k PR, or a beginning runner CARA Training Director Tim Bradley is here to answer your training questions!
Q: How long should my long runs be, and why does it matter?
A: Long runs are an integral part of any training program and provide a specific day to work on your cardiovascular and muscular limits. Long runs provide numerous physiological adaptations that improve your ability to use oxygen and your body’s ability to use fat as a fuel source. Long run distances really depend on a runner's goal race distance and experience level.
For shorter races like 5k and 10k it is good to cover close to twice the distance of the race. For longer distances, like half marathon and full marathon, you should cover a minimum of 75-80% of the total race distance in order to adequately prepare, but also reduce injury risk. More experienced runners can generally cover a higher percentage of the goal race distance.
Long Run Guidelines for Popular Race Distances
5k: 6-8 miles
10k: 8-10 miles
Half Marathon: 75-80% of total race distance (approx. 9-10 miles). Advanced runners can cover the full distance or slightly over the full distance.
Marathon: 75-80% of total race distance (approx. 20-21 miles). Advanced runners can cover closer to 85-95% of full race distance.
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