Last week I had 18 miles planned for my long run. But then I realized that I had the Summerfest 10k on Sunday. In marathon training last year, the only race I had during that time was a half marathon. It was no big deal to tack on mileage for a warm up and cool down after the race to get in my desired total. But with a 10k, it’s only 6.2 miles. Add one mile for a warm up and I’ve would still have a boat load of miles to get in. And if I truly was going to “race,” would I have the energy to put in 11 miles more? Probably not. I decided I would instead try splitting a long run, something I’ve never done before.
Thursday morning my plan was to get in at least 10 miles and then complete the remaining 8 once Ron got home from work in the evening. This was the best possible option for my situation but also for training. It allowed for active recovery during the day while still being a little fatigued for the second run. My active recovery consisted of spending the morning and the early part of the afternoon on a field trip with twelve 3-4 year old kids at the beach.
Active, yes. Recovery, not so much.
In 12 hours, I ran in two completely different weather situations.
Morning – pouring rain, high humidity, temps in the low 70s. I also had ran with a friend for a portion of it for some company.
Evening – blue sky, sunshine, a breeze, temps in the low 80s. Solo.
My run in the morning was the tougher of the two. The conditions made it more challenging and I seemed to struggle up a few hills. I was quite surprised how fresh I felt for the afternoon run despite being on my feet all day. I am usually not an evening runner at all but everything kind of fell into place after the first mile. For the most part I ate what I usually eat throughout the day and didn’t alter anything. I did finish the last two miles a little faster than planned just because I was getting hungry for dinner. Running past good smelling restaurants intensified that!
So is splitting up a long run good for marathon training?
Your body is getting most of the same physical endurance training benefits of a continuous long run since you’re not completely recovering in between runs. However, the benefits are not as great as when you do one continuous long run. And, of course, it’s definitely easier mentally to run 10 miles in the morning and 8 miles at night, rather than 18 miles all at once — which is why you don’t want to do it every week. Ideally, you want to run your long run continuously, since that’s what you’ll be doing in your marathon. But splitting your run is a great way to squeeze a long run into a busy week and it definitely beats the alternative of skipping your long run altogether.
Have you had to split a long run in training?