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Medium-long runs

What is a medium-long run?

Definition of medium-long runs
Medium-long runs, often a critical part of half marathon or marathon training, are workouts longer than usual training runs, but shorter than typical long runs. This distance is generally between 6 and 15 miles, depending on the plan. These runs are also called mid-week long runs. Medium-long runs are intended to help adapt your muscles to improve endurance and increase glycogen storage and fat utilization. In addition, this distance has tremendous physiological benefits and helps with confidence-boosting.

When to do medium-long runs
Medium-long runs are performed on Wednesdays (or whenever the middle of a training week happens to be). You should run them after adequate rest from long runs and in between easy runs and other more demanding workouts. They can also be performed on step-back weeks that usually occur a week after the longest run to date in your training cycle.

Pace goals of medium-long runs
Like long runs, medium-long runs should be run considerably slower than goal race pace. This figures to about a minute or minute and a half slower per mile. Occasionally these runs may be executed at your goal pace or even replaced (on step-back weeks) by a race of shorter than goal distance.

Training method Recommendations
Hal Higdon Hal Higdon’s half and full plans do feature a medium-long run, typically on Wednesday, though there’s no specific pace suggestion. They should be run at easy pace to complete the distance. You’ll sometimes see a race in place of a longer distance run on weekends (for example, a half marathon as part of a marathon plan), which should be run at your goal pace for that distance.
Jeff Galloway Jeff Galloway’s plans do not incorporate medium-long runs. They consist of two easy runs and a long run with a little cross-training.
FIRST The FIRST method doesn’t incorporate medium-long runs. Instead, it contains three days of running — a long run, interval session, and tempo workout.
Hanson method The Handson method is built more on medium-distance long runs versus super long runs. Pace suggestions vary by group, with beginners at 2 minutes slower than goal, intermediate at 1 minute slower, and advanced progressively faster each week.
Pete Pfitzinger Pete Pfitzinger details that medium-long runs, much like regular long runs, should be performed at “10 to 20 percent slower” than goal race pace, which figures to around a minute to minute and a half.
Jack Daniels The Daniels formula doesn’t specifically include medium-long runs. But of any runs performed in this plan, up to 80 percent should be easy or “your 5-K race pace, plus 90 to 120 seconds per mile.”
Greg McMillan
McMillan’s plan suggests performing a medium-long run mid-week, every other week. These runs should be one to two minutes slower than goal pace. Occasionally, incorporate fast-finish medium and long runs into your training.

Medium-long runs in a nutshell: Basically, this distance run is a feature of more advanced training programs — though some novice programs include it for confidence-boosting. It’s a run similar to the long run, just shorter, that will tax your body during the week to train your system to deal with more mileage. Other types of runs may masquerade as medium-long runs (tempo, for example), but the true workout’s purpose is time on your feet and building base mileage.

In general, you should treat pace for this workout much like how you treat it for your long runs. So, either just run to complete or — if you need a guide — stay around a minute to minute and a half slower than your goal race pace. If your medium long run is slated to be a race, go all out!

Written by  Ashley Marcin 

RELATED WalkJogRun guide to different types of runs