Is the Fast Finish Long Run part of your Marathon Training?
Long-run training is a staple of every training plan for a marathon or ultramarathon. There is no way to prepare for these long-distance races without it. Once you have developed the ability to run for a long distance, you may now be thinking about setting a personal best time. To accomplish a faster time, you will need to learn to run faster on tired legs and depleted energy. Adding variety to your marathon training with workouts such as the fast finish long run will help you achieve this goal.
What is the goal of a Fast Finish Long Run?
From a psychological perspective, a fast finish long run teaches you how to continue to push the pace in the late stages of a race. You learn to ignore the burning in your legs and the urge to slow down. When you reach this point of fatigue in a marathon, whether it be mile 18 or 22, you will have the confidence from this long-run workout to continue to push forward.
Physically, a fast finish long run teaches your body how to burn fat more efficiently. In the late stages of a long run or marathon, you will be running low on carbohydrates. Your body will be looking for an alternative energy source. By simulating this situation in training, your body will learn how to adapt. With continued practice, you will efficiently make this transition from carbohydrate to fat burning as your primary fuel source.
Lastly, the Fast Finish Long Run can serve as an excellent dress rehearsal for your race. Eat the same foods, drink the same drinks and wear the same gear you expect to in the race. There should be no surprises on race day because you have practiced everything in training at the appropriate running pace.
How do you complete a Fast Finish Long Run?
Typically, marathon runners will want to incorporate a fast finish long run when their long-run mileage is around 14-18 miles. However, this will significantly depend upon your overall training plan and training volume.
A 14-mile fast finish long run may look like this on your training schedule: 14-miles with 6-miles at marathon goal pace and 2-miles at 10k race pace. In this case, the runner would begin the long run with 6 miles at their average long-run pace, complete 6-miles at their current projected marathon goal pace, and finish the run with 2-miles at or near their 10k race pace. Most runners will find these final two miles very challenging, and often, they will not hit their 10k race pace. That is perfectly fine, as long as the continued focus is on running hard and finishing strong.
Where does this workout land in your training routine?
It is essential to make sure your total long run mileage and overall training volume are at the correct level. For marathon training, we typically recommend this being 14-16 miles for your long run distance. Once you have reached this training level, you can incorporate fast finish long runs every second or third week.
If your overall training volume or experience level with running race pace for more extended amounts of time in workouts is not quite this high, then we recommend starting with some steady-state workouts first. In combination with fast finish long runs, Steady Runs will help you develop the ability to run strong when feeling fatigued.
While the majority of our discussion on fast finish long runs has been focused on marathon training, runners training for shorter distance events can benefit from this type of workout as well. The mental and physical adaptations that occur from running fast on tired legs will be much the same. Running the last 1 to 3 miles of any long run hard is a difficult task and can help you gain confidence for your next race.
Let us know what you think of fast finish long runs or if you have questions about how they can be implemented in your training plan.
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