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Splitting the long run into two

splitting your long run into two runs

Thinking of skipping your long run this week? If your reason is time or, perhaps, the weather, you might reconsider. While I had heard of this practice years and years ago, I never really thought about trying it on my own. However, this particular training season has been hectic and snow-driven, so I’ve had to make some unique efforts to get in my mileage. In fact, our running coach mentioned splitting up long runs into two parts would be a fine thing to do, at least on occasion.

Here’s why:

On the surface, a 10 mile run sounds much more impressive and beneficial than two 5-milers. That 20-miler for your marathon goal? Maybe 12 in the morning and 8 in the afternoon sounds more like it. But could that shift be catastrophic to your overall training? You’d be surprised that the answer to that question is no. You can actually enjoy the “physical endurance training benefits of a continuous long run since you’re not completely recovering in between runs.”

Your body is still operating on recovery mode when you set out for that afternoon run. I’ve heard that so long as you didn’t take more than 8 to 12 hours between sessions, your body will continue to operate similarly to if you had done it all at once. You can do this split within a day or even overnight. And the key is that you save this method for certain days, not practice it all the time.

So, I tested the theory out, and it is difficult to quantify the results. I had a 10-miler on the schedule, but my day was busy due to house showings in the morning and then a meeting in the afternoon. I ran 6 miles before lunch and another 4 after dinner. I felt more fatigued for the 4-miler, so I know my body was running on at least some level of depletion. Having some time to recover and fuel up, though, did make me feel fresher – at least mentally – for those later miles. I’ve split a long run one other time, and honestly, I can’t see how it would change the outcome of my entire training season terribly much.

Time will tell, I suppose!

Marathoners out there might be wondering how this approach would work up against the dreaded wall in the latter miles of the 26.2 race. Thing is, most “poor race experiences are a function of poor race execution. This includes everything from poor pacing at the start to poor overall pace selection, from insufficient food,” etc. I have experienced that dreaded wall first-hand, and – at least in my experience – it was due to improper fueling and choosing a pace that was too aggressive.

That being said, running all your prescribed distance at one time is the best way to prepare for race day, as you can’t take time to split those miles. So, you don’t want to take this approach every single week. Of course, the mental benefit of running, say, 18 miles all at one time can’t be outweighed either. My take? If it’s a matter of running a split long run versus not running at all? I think we see the clear winner here.

Do you ever split your long runs? What’s your method?

Written by  Ashley Marcin.